Annual Lanett City Schools incident reports influenced by pandemic, says superintendent

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022

During the Lanett City Schools meeting on Monday, Lanett City Schools Superintendent Jennifer Boyd said the numbers of incident reports of student misbehavior for the school year looked worse than they were because of the pandemic.

“Each year, as you know, we are required to submit record of student incidents that have occurred during the entire school year to the state department of education,” Boyd said. “There are some specifications for reporting. There are some guidelines that they push down to us, and we are required to submit any incidents that are in violation of the law or incidents that represent a serious breach of local board and education policies.”

She clarified that the incidents weren’t about minor issues such as dress code infractions. Rather, they were incidents that resulted in out-of-school suspension, in-school suspension, alternative placement or corporal punishment (which Lanett City Schools doesn’t do) in reports to law enforcement.

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“Our overall incident data for this school year shows an increase in the number of school incidents,” Boyd said. “But let me give you a little bit of background so that you can keep things in context.”

Boyd said the 2019 to 2020 school year ended abruptly in March of 2020, so there are about three months for which incidents weren’t recorded.

“And then, last year, the 2020-2021 school year, if you remember, our students did not fully come on campus until Feb. 1,” she said. “So of course, if they’re not on campus, you’re not going to have as many incidents. So when you hear that there’s an increase, for the most part, our students have not been fully on campus in two years.”

Boyd added that the pandemic had contributed to social, emotional and behavioral problems in students.

“Our teachers and administrators have worked hard, but it’s kind of like when you remove someone from a structured environment, you’ve got to kind of recondition them to that environment,” she said. “And so, with some of these incidents that we saw, I really believe it’s because our students, they missed two full years of being in a structured environment.”

W. O. Lance Elementary School data reports indicated an increase of 193 incidents, Boyd said. Reports from Lanett Junior High School indicated an increase of 180 incidents, and reports from Lanett High School indicated an increase of 112.

“We will continue to work hard, and we hope to continue to put some things in place to address the culture and climate of our schools and to hopefully curtail these unwelcome behaviors that we are seeing,” Boyd said. “And I’m sure you’ve seen that all across America in the news, when students came back into the face-to-face setting, schools had to deal a lot with discipline. And in my sector, that’s all superintendents are talking about — some of the discipline incidents that they had to deal with in their school district. But it is because students are so far removed from a structured environment for a long period of time.”

In other business at the meeting, Boyd encouraged everyone to vote yes on the renewal of the local 6 mill tax.

“It is because of these ad valorem taxes that we are able to meet some needs that cannot be met through state and federal funding,” Boyd said. “I always like to reemphasize that our schools are not fully funded by the state or federal government. And our local dollars, they mean so much to us. And when we say local dollars, if you look at what makes up those local dollars, the ad valorem tax makes up a huge chunk of those local dollars.”

Boyd said Lanett citizens can vote for the tax on June 21 at Lanett High School.