Frontlines: Crazy Detention Policies & How To Fix Them

A reader shares his experiences in a CPS school and wonders what the rest of you have seen and thought: "Image.php (3)I taught for years at a middle-of-the-pack Chicago public high school, and I am curious what your readers think about the topic of detentions. The most infuriating thing about my school was that they did not enforce the detention policy. Many students refused to serve detentions and would still be in class even if they had multiple unserved detentions (I heard some had more than 10.). On several occasions I saw students throw detention forms in the trash because there were little or no consequences to ignoring them. Occasionally the discipline office would declare that students could buy their detentions for one dollar, which to me seemed insane. I even heard that if students were given an in-school or out-of-school detention, their detention backlog was wiped clean. All this led to students disrupting class or showing up late to class because they knew the detention procedures were a joke. My explanation is that principals are judged partly on their rate of suspensions, so they have a huge incentive to be lenient with troublemakers. Are there other schools that have detention policies like this? Is there anything that can be done to improve the situation?"

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  • I can tell you what does work. At my school, administration took the tardy problem seriously. Students are given a detention for being late three times and rigorously enforce that policy.If a student does not show up for detention, the punishment escalates. Hallsweeps are done daily and without mercy. During class time, there are usually no students in the hallway. Sometimes students are trying to hide on a back stairwell, but security knows this and fequents that area. When I first arrived at the school years ago, it was a chaos in the hallway. However, administration dedicated themselves to student safety and were inolved in the hallsweeps along with security. Security gaurds had their desks and chairs taken away so they were not sitting during the passing periods. In sum, if administration truly wants to rid the problems of the hallway, they have to be involved and not throw the responsibilty on security. Moreover, hallsweeps must be done constantly with the help of technology to process wandering students by scanning their ID's and making them go to detention on that day for loitering. If administration fails to make good on threats, the students will not change their behavior.

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