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Lawrence school board approves restorative practices for severe behavior incidents, sets new student fees

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The Lawrence school board on Monday approved the next step of the district’s restorative practice model, which will apply the practices to more severe student behaviors.

Restorative practices are alternatives to traditional discipline. The district has been implementing restorative practice for the past several years in hopes of reducing the school-to-prison pipeline and allow students to focus on repairing harm.

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The approved Restorative Practice and Behavior Matrix for Secondary Tier 3 is meant to provide guidelines for teachers and staff to follow in response to more severe behavioral issues. Guidelines for Secondary Tier 1 and Tier 2 behaviors have already been outlined and implemented.

Tier 3 behaviors include severe misconduct, such as violence against students or staff, fighting, sexual misconduct, theft and more. 

District administrators opted to switch out language of student misconduct from “offense” to “incident” to align better with state language standards, said Cynthia Johnson, executive director of engagement and belonging. 

The guidelines for Tier 3 behaviors include restorative practices and some consequences, such as short-term suspensions, for a student’s first two incidents. After a third incident — or first incidents of forcible sexual misconduct or theft — consequences become more severe and could result in law enforcement involvement.

Here’s the approved matrix from Monday’s meeting agenda:

Changes-from-July-10-Secondary-Tier-3-Restorative-Practice-and-Behavior-Matrix-7_2023-2

In other business:

• Student fees approved: The board unanimously approved student enrollment fees that will go into effect this fall.

As part of the meeting’s consent agenda, board members voted in one motion to approve the enrollment fees, which have not increased since last year

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One fee — the device fee for high school students — has decreased by $10 from last year. That reflects the district’s decision, which the board approved on Jan. 23, to switch from MacBooks to iPads for high schoolers. All K-12 students, including virtual, who pay for full-priced meals will be charged a $15 device fee.

Student instructional fees (formerly known as the books, materials and technology fee) will cost $100 for grades K-5 and virtual K-12, and $150 for grades 6-12. That’s for students who are paying for full-priced meals. There’s also a $15 transportation fee for field trips for all students, and additional fees come with a student’s participation in extra activities.

“Full or partial fee waivers are available for students qualifying for free or reduced-priced school meals or hardship waivers,” according to the district. “… The district encourages all families that may be eligible to submit the Free and Reduced-Priced Meal Application online at www.usd497.org/FoodService and complete the Consent for Disclosure Form to share eligibility for applicable fee waivers.”

Staff members can assist families with questions about the application and form. Call 785-832-5000 or email fs.office.staff@usd497.org.

• Laptop purchase: Related to the switch from MacBooks to iPads for high school students, the school board on Monday approved the purchase of 50 Windows laptops for $49,000. That item was also approved as part of the meeting’s consent agenda.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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