Highlands is doing away with school suspensions at 2 schools | TribLIVE.com
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Highlands School District is hoping to make out-of-school suspensions a thing of the past on the elementary and middle school levels.

Highlands Elementary and Highlands Middle School have created what the district calls a Rams Reflective Room where students spend time with specialists to address problems that led to a suspension. The room replaces the traditional suspension rooms at both schools.

“Our goal is to address social, emotional and behavioral issues instead of going the suspension route,” said Highlands Superintendent Monique Mawhinney.

Principals Samantha Perlik at Highlands Elementary and Kimberly Price of Highlands Middle School presented the school board Monday night with details of the program. It began at the start of the new school year.

As part of the program, school officials will schedule a day for behavioral specialists to meet with students to talk about causes for suspensions. The school district behavioral specialists are Amy Grove and Kristen Ferrante.

The specialists will discuss ways to improve discipline, including how to stop inappropriate behavior. They will talk to students about taking responsibility for their actions and how to solve conflicts.

The two principals looked at what other school districts were doing to address the problem.

“The approaches are out there,” Perlik said. “Social and emotional learning needs have to be addressed and recognized.”

Both principals said parents would be involved and be given reports on the students affected. Students will practice writing by reporting on their experiences in the Rams Reflective Room.

Parents might be briefed on the new program at public forums such as a PTO meeting.

The program is not available in the senior high school, officials said.

Several school board members praised the new program and no board members or residents spoke negatively of the effort.

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