Dawn Saul, spokeswoman for the Davenport schools, says the goal is to discipline unruly students, but keep them in school. Last fall, five “diversion coaches” were hired for junior highs and three “diversion teachers” for high schools.
Saul says, “Instead of just suspending a student and having them come back and nothing’s really changed, now, we’re trying to have a consequence for the behavior but also work to build skills that may be needed and to help with behavioral change.” Under the program, Saul says problem students are kept in school, going to class when possible, and working with the diversion coaches and teachers. She offers examples of how those staffers interact with the students.
“What would be other ways we could approach this problem? I hear that you’re frustrated. I hear that you’re angry. How else could we look at this? What are some other choices we could make?” In the past year, suspensions dropped 30 percent across all grades in Davenport and 53 percent at the high school level.
The previous year, Davenport’s high schools had about 3,000 in- and out-of-school suspensions. Over the past year, that dropped to 1,400. Saul says there’s been great feedback from staff and students.
(Thanks to Herb Trix, WVIK, Rock Island)