LOCKWOOD — San Antonio Union School District has received an award from the state of California recognizing its successful positive behavioral intervention and support strategies at the silver level, school officials announced Aug. 4.

This represented a shift from when the school district had the eighth highest suspension rate in the state during the 2017-18 school year.

“Staff clearly recognized something had to be done, because when kids are suspended they’re out of the classroom and they’re not learning,” said Superintendent Josh Van Norman. “You’re creating this environment where people don’t feel included or supported. But they’re also missing instruction.”

According to Van Norman, the students missing class while out of the classroom for behavioral reasons are the very students who need the classroom time. The school has implemented PBIS strategies.

“It’s an approach system-wide to deal with discipline,” Van Norman said. “Be more proactive in manner rather than reactive and punitive.”

Positivity is rewarded in the PBIS system, such as the caught being good slips, which any staffer can issue to a student, or weekly prize drawings.

“You’re basically calling out good behavior and recognizing it in the moment,” Van Norman said. “The goal is student learning because we want the kids to do well.”

The school sets clear expectations with visual reminders, including the ROAR acronym to remind students about being respectful, on-task, accountable and responsible.

“The shift in mindset, if there’s a problem in the classroom, previously you sent them down to the office, and that over time doesn’t work because these kids understand if they act up they get out of class,” Van Norman said.

For students who do end up misbehaving, the goal is to keep the students in the classroom with strategies, such as cool-off spots in a classroom where children can calm down, or taking time with an instructional aide for a walk to cool down.

“I’m proud of our group because it takes a lot of hard work to do that,” Van Norman said.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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