Concerns for the Dysart Unified School District regarding behavior are addressed each year.
Data from a pandemic year did show improvement, but makes it difficult to track, said Karen Winterstein, DUSD's director of student services.
She said because the year started virtually for students, looking back to see the success the district has experienced gives perspective to the success and challenges faced over the past couple years.
“Two years ago and we celebrated these decreases in the amount of referral percentages decreased bullying by 27%, defiance and disrespect by 14%, verbal abuse profanity 24%, endangerment 41%, dangerous instrument 31% and threatening and intimidating behavior 35%. We were really focusing on respect and responsibility in that last year,” she said.
The downside of the 2018-19 school year is when a huge spike hit DUSD with a 216% increase in drug tobacco paraphernalia with vape and a 179% increase in drug use possessions with vape that had a THC cartridge.
Ms. Winterstein said there were very few actual physical drugs. And a 288% increase in tobacco use contained inside a vape. She also noted that was the trend happening within Arizona, as well as nationwide.
“Last year wasn’t a typical year as far as data, so I took last year’s comparison and did 75% in comparison of the previous full year. We were pretty much even on just about everything,” she said.
While there were not many celebrations, suspensions were down 15%, threats down 23% and drug tobacco paraphernalia only was down 21%.
Ms. Winterstein said without full enrollment with between 65% and 80% students attending in person, many factors played in to the decrease. Students were socially distant, wearing masks and behavior was very much different in a typical classroom.
There was a decrease of 51% in assaults and fighting, but again, this was not a typical year.
Ms. Winterstein said DUSD officials took a second look at the process for suspension and concluded kids need to be in the classroom. The idea of students being more reflective and upon returning to school they would check back in.
As a result, there was a drastic drop last year using only three quarters with seven total suspensions rather than 28 in the previous year.
Jennifer Jimenez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @SCW_Independent.