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Behavior problems addressed at APS board meeting

5/8/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Public Schools (APS) Director of Student Services Dan Rambler presented a summary of the numerous programs his department has in place to help combat and prevent behavior problems, as well as new directions they are taking in the efforts, at the April 28 APS Board of Education meeting.

The Akron Education Association (AEA) has filed a grievance with the district for its allegedly light punishment of students who got into a fight last November at a Kenmore and East High School football game. Kathy McVey, human resources director for the district, said the AEA has requested arbitration over the district’s decision, and the issue is currently with the APS legal counsel’s office to set up the arbitration.

On April 11, another fight at Kenmore, allegedly among rival gang members from Kenmore and Buchtel Community Learning Center, said Rambler, resulted in the arrest of 15 students after school officials reviewed tapes of the fight.

Board member the Rev. Curtis Walker questioned the district’s large number of suspensions and expulsions, ranking the district high among school districts in the state. Rambler agreed that “suspension alone doesn’t work” and said the district is working on ways to improve school climate and culture to help prevent incidents before they occur and get students suspended or expelled.

The district has 11 alternative programs, including partnerships with the Akron Police Department, the Summit County Juvenile Court, the YMCA and others to help change the behaviors that got the students removed from their schools, Rambler said.

APS officials have visited other school districts, including the Cincinnati Public Schools, to bring back best practices for alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, he said. Numerous Akron schools have very good programs in place that are proactively improving their school cultures, he said, and officials hope to replicate those practices in other schools.

The APS board’s next meeting is scheduled for May 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St.

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