Bullying, as defined by the AZ Department of Public Education and AzSafe, are “repeated acts over time” that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful child or group attacking those who are less powerful. Bullying can be in physical form, verbal, or psychological”. ADE does require that schools report annually incidents related to bullying.
Our processes and commitment to ensure student safety
What is bullying?
What is the Standard Response Protocol and how does it relate to school safety?
WUSD engages regularly in Standard Response Protocol (SRP) drills to be better prepared in emergency or life-threatening situations. Two teams are trained annually at both sites in CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute) for verbal de-escalation techniques and child restraint. Only CPI trained staff should engage in child restraint.
We have a district team trained annually in CSTAG (Dr. Dewey Cornell) Protocols for conducting threat assessments. CSTAG stands for Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guide, which is used when a threat to cause harm or injury occurs. It allows us to understand how serious a threat may or may not be (transient vs. substantive) and is considered the gold standard for school systems evaluating threats.
To meet this standard, we have added a school counselor at WEMS, which affords a multitude of new possibilities, including assisting the discipline process with much needed follow up counseling, conflict resolution, and social emotional support for students.
This process is in addition to the District support of parents and families in reaching out to local law enforcement when they feel a possible crime has been committed. When the school feels a possible crime has been committed, reports to law enforcement entities are made. In some instances, we are required to report to local law enforcement under state statute. WUSD cooperates with local law enforcement and we value our continued relationship.
What is the process of removing a student from a school?
When a student reaches 80 points and parents do not wish to voluntarily withdraw from the school, we are obligated under the law and board policy to conduct a Due Process Hearing. A board approved 3 rd party hearing officer, approved and trained by The Trust, conducts the hearing and renders a decision. The hearing officer’s recommendation is then taken to the Governing Board for approval. A principal will submit a letter to the Superintendent with a recommendation for either long term suspension (11-180 days) or expulsion. Expulsion is the permanent removal of a child from school. Only the governing board can expel. Only the board can reinstate an expelled student. AZ law allows for schools to not enroll a child who has been expelled. Once the Superintendent receives the recommendation, if he/she agrees with it, he/she will contact The Trust and set up the hearing.
The Governing Board approved revisions to the handbook dropping the accumulated discipline points from 100 to 80 and added “suspension and withdrawal for up to 1 full year” instead of the old standard of “for the rest of the year” have helped our schools.
Arizona HB 2123 (ARS 15-841) is a fairly recent AZ law that only allows for the removal of a Pre-K-4 grade student under a handful of very specific and documented circumstances. Removal can include suspension and expulsion.
WEMS had four removals during the 2021-2022 school year and may see as many as nine removals this year, but some of these cases are still in process.
How does the discipline process work for Special Education students?
When discipline involves a Special Education (SPED) or 504 student, the process and the layers involved become much different. First, a school has 10 days a year to suspend a SPED student. After 10 days the process looks like this: SPED Director is notified that a student has or is about to reach 10 days of suspension. This includes in and out of school suspensions. Any removal beyond 10 days requires that we provide services and their general education. An MDR (Manifestation Determination Review) is conducted to answer the general question “are disabilities related to behaviors?” If a SPED student is removed, the school is financially responsible for that child’s education elsewhere. This is called Alternative Placement (with services) and this is federal law. WUSD # 2 does not have many options for Alternative Placements, being a rural district. Alternative Placements typically surround the notion of student and staff safety.
What are the impacts of orders of protection or injunctions filed by families?
An order of protection or an injunction against harassment against another student does not keep an accused student away from the school and away from a certain child, as both have equal rights to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) as outlined in the Arizona State Constitution and under IDEA at the federal level.
Does any school district have a financial interest in avoiding disciplining students?
It is to the benefits of all students and team members to have a safe learning environment. As such, WUSD strongly believes in student discipline that adheres to all laws, procedures, and due process.
What is Title IX Sexual Harassment and how does it impact schools?
WUSD # 2 is in full compliance with requirements associated with Title IX, as we have a trained coordinator, decision maker, and investigator for all reported incidents of alleged sexual harassment. You can find more about Title IX and discrimination here: https://www.wusd2.org/page/nondiscrimination