Every student has the right to an education free of physical and psychological disruption. There are several dimensions to ARHS’s work to make this a reality for all students: PBIS[Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports], Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 222 and equity advancement.
Two big ideas inform ARHS’s work to make this right a reality for all students.
The essential idea of PBIS is that schools should invest in supporting students to do the right thing rather than limiting their work to ‘catching’ them when they don’t.
‘Chapter 222’, the law, recently passed by the Massachusetts legislature, discourages an over-reliance on suspension as a response to students’ inappropriate behavior and, instead, encourages schools to develop responses that limit the amount of time students are out of class. Suspension remains an option, but only as a last resort in cases of extreme behaviors that significantly disrupts the learning environment or threatens the well-being of the school community.
As an alternative, and, often times a complement to suspensions or other consequences, ARHS has developed a range of interventions designed to enable students to reflect on their behavior and develop more productive choices for the future. This work is a coordinated effort, shared by the guidance department and the Deans of Students. Interventions are a broader, more comprehensive response, ones that could include the assigning of consequences, but are not limited to it. Again, the intent here is to achieve a better balance between holding students accountable for their behavior and supporting them to finds ways to make better decisions in the future.
Lastly, equity advancement refers to ARHS’s on-going work to ensure that both school-wide and classroom climates are safe and inclusive. The foundation of this work is the acknowledgment that bias can privilege some individuals and groups over others. Advancing social justice allows ARHS to create a learning environment that welcomes and supports all members of the school community.