Student discipline data is in

Low behavioral problems in Nashua school district

NASHUA – In the last few months, Nashua School District Superintendent Jahmal Mosley has been collaborating with the principals of Nashua’s three middle schools and two high schools to get data on student discipline, as requested by Board of Education member Howard Coffman.

During the board’s meeting Monday, Mosley presented the data that was gathered. The data gave a snapshot of the middle and high school student discipline data as of Dec. 3, 2018. Mosley said he is planning on expanding this data collection to the elementary schools.

In terms of the middle and high schools, more than 80 percent of all students had never been disciplined. Overall, the schools did well. The percentage of students who were never involved in discipline at Elm Street Middle School was 82.2 percent. At Fairgrounds Middle School, 86 percent have not been involved in discipline. At Pennichuck Middle School, 92 percent of students were not in the discipline system.

Discipline in this set of data was considered a detention, an in-school suspension or an out-of-school suspension. The data was broken down into groups based on the number of infractions per student, the students with the particular infractions, the types of infractions and the numbers and percentages of students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, among other categories, such as demographics.

Mosley began by giving a break down of Nashua High School North. He said at this school there are 1,753 students, 1,437 of whom have never been involved in the discipline system. One hundred and sixty-seven students have had just one discipline infraction. Mosley said 40 students have had two.

Eighty-six students have had three to six infractions, according to the report, and 23 have had seven to 17 infractions.

“What this number really says here, and where I’m going with all of this, is that there’s only a small number of kids at North that account for a lot of what I call, high-level discipline,” Mosley said.

Mosley also shared with the board the finding that about 75 percent of students who are involved in high-level infractions at North qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

“We look at these kids (with three to six and seven to 17 infractions). Who are they? What are we doing about them? So what we have done over the last two to three months is we had some discussions around that and part of it was really looking at our Clearway Program, looking at our Brentwood Program, looking at the process of referrals, looking at these kid’s pathways to the high school,” Mosley said.

“We are looking at these kids in terms of what’s best for them,” Mosley told the board. “Clearly suspension, suspension, suspension is something that is not working for these kids. Essentially, we would be suspending them almost every day… These numbers are certainly concerning because I think any student who’s missing school, we need to look at.”

There were a number of other factors that Mosley said the schools need to work on. He acknowledged the need for unifying the reporting of discipline in the middle schools and elementary schools and said school officials are working on coordinating discipline systems.

“There are great things that happen here at our schools. Our school is the melting pot of New Hampshire and America. We have so many different things going on in our schools,” Mosley said told the board.

He added, “Do we have problems? Absolutely we do. Do we have things we can work on? Absolutely. But the data shows that 82 percent of our kids are doing the right thing.”

Multiple board members gave Mosley feedback once he finished explaining the data.

Board President Heather Raymond said she was interested at the correlation between the number of students who are food insecure and the number who are receiving multiple disciplinary actions.

Raymond said, “The numbers are high of students who are food insecure, who are involved in our disciplinary systems, and so I feel like this is an opportunity for us as we look forward in the budget. Not just the Meals Matter Program, but are there things we as a school can do, we as a community can do, to help reach some of these kids? Because I feel like we are missing a very small segment of getting them really invested in being here and being here in a positive way. My heart breaks for them and I want to help them.”

Board member Howard Coffman said he appreciated Mosley addressing the frequency of discipline, but was curious to learn of the severity of the infractions.

“This gives us the scale and the scope, but it doesn’t tell why,” Coffman told Mosley.

Later, Coffman added that learning the severity of the infractions could help with creating more professional development for teachers who are constantly engaged and dealing with a particular issue that they may not be trained to handle.

Board Member Doris Hohensee was along similar lines as Coffman.

“If you can break it out into categories, we’ll know the type of things our teachers are dealing with, because these are great numbers but it doesn’t really help us understand, three-dimensionally, what type of problems they are facing,” Hohensee told Mosley.

Board member Dotty Oden said she wants to see which level of discipline the students were receiving and was interested in seeing what type of discipline problems there are with vaping.

Mosley told the board he would do his best and try to work with the principals to get more information the types of infractions at a later date.