Letters to the Editor

School discipline approaches make a positive impact

As someone who wants all kids to grow up safely, I hope the event described in your Aug. 29 article, “Anti-bullying rally planned for Saturday has been postponed for now” will be rescheduled. I see it as a complement to the work I do as a school resource officer.

As chief of police for Biloxi Public Schools, I actively encourage students to respect each other and to appreciate their differences. Obviously, the type of bullying referred to in your article is off-limits. But we also employ the principles of respect at a higher level through our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) effort.

Schools that use PBIS create clear expectations and rules that students and teachers must follow. Responses to inappropriate behavior are clearly defined. Examples include a warning, a time-out, privilege loss or parent contact, as opposed to sending students to the principal’s office of removing them from school.

As a result, our hallways and classrooms are more peaceful. Our teachers are being treated with more respect. Most importantly, we’re dealing with the underlying issues that lead to problematic behaviors.

This is especially good news to me, as someone with 20 years in law enforcement. I know that past “zero-tolerance” school discipline policies too often led to suspensions and expulsions and, ultimately, involvement in the criminal justice system. It’s much smarter to work together as a community to address behavioral challenges in a positive way that keeps kids in school and on track for productive lives.

Paul Cannette

Ocean Springs