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MAHONING VALLEY SCHOOLS Data show disciplinary actions



Published: Fri, April 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state said there are inconsistencies with the data and cautioned against comparing school districts.

By RON COLE

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

The amount of discipline handed out to pupils varies widely among Mahoning Valley school districts, according to a new state report on how schools deal with troublemakers.

Warren schools had the highest rate among districts in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties with 115.9 discipline actions for every 100 pupils. Poland schools recorded the lowest with 1.4.

The report released this week by the Ohio Department of Education also shows that boys generally are disciplined more than girls and blacks more than whites.

"These data show parents, teachers, students and the community the actions being taken when students violate the school district's code of conduct," said Mary Lou Rush, executive director of ODE's office of supportive learning services.

Reporting differences: But state officials said the report does not give a complete picture about discipline and cautioned against comparing school districts. Schools have varying codes of conduct and discipline procedures and may have reported the data differently, which affects the way the statistics are recorded in the report, they said.

Warren Superintendent Betty English commended the state for releasing the data. "It brings a level of awareness, especially for principals and teachers," she said.

But she criticized the education department for how it reported the data, saying it distorts what's actually going on in the schools.

"If the state was going to release that kind of data, it should have been more specific and it should have been used in a way that's more prescriptive as opposed to saying, 'Well, here's the facts, now what are you going to do about it?'"

What's in report: The report shows the number of disciplinary actions for every 100 pupils for the 2000-01 school year. Actions include expulsions, suspensions (in and out of school) and other punishment such as Saturday school.

The report measures the number of disciplinary actions handed out, not the number of pupils disciplined. So, if a pupil receives four disciplinary actions in a year, that would count as four in the report. That's how a district like Warren can have more than 100 disciplinary actions for every 100 pupils, state officials said.

Robert Zorn, Poland superintendent, credited "good kids, good parents, good staff" for his district's low numbers. He said Poland tries to keep down the number of discipline actions, instead working with pupils and parents to correct bad behavior.

As for criticism of the way the data was reported, Zorn said: "It's been my experience in life that if you don't like the numbers, you question them; and, if you like them, they're good."

Black pupils had more disciplinary actions than their white counterparts in many school districts. In Campbell, for instance, 76.7 disciplinary actions were handed out for every 100 black pupils, compared to 36.9 for every 100 white pupils.

Like English, Campbell Superintendent Jim Ciccolelli said the numbers are distorted. He also said he can't explain the differences between the races.

"We have a student code of conduct and rules for one and all," he said.




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