Superintendent makes changes in GCPS policies

What Comets can expect when school reopen in January 2023


DeAnna Smith and Mariam Mohammad

The 2022-23 school year has been one of the most challenging that Gwinnett County has experienced thus far. In response, Dr. Calvin Watts, the superintendent for Gwinnett County Public Schools has reinstated policies to regain order in our school district. Currently the school board is trying to overturn the 2022-23 new disciplinary policies and return to the previous line of consequences for students who consistently break rules.

This year, students and teachers may have noticed an increase in students skipping, tardiness, fighting, disrespect to staff, amongst other behavioral issues that disrupt instruction. Mr. John Leece, an English teacher at South, became frustrated with the students’ behavior, so he went to a board meeting last week to voice his concerns saying “… it’s not fair to the students that are not misbehaving and the teachers that just want the best for their students.” Many teachers agree with Mr. Leece and are hoping that changes are enforced. At the beginning of the school year, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution compiled and released data that shows that Black students in Gwinnett County face the highest rates of discipline rates. Many believed that this was a racial prejudice against black students, however, this leaves out the fact that black students make up 33% of the student population while white students make up 11% in Gwinnett County. A lot of residents believe that this data may be the reason why in-house discipline policies were rolled out at the beginning of the year as opposed to the traditional disciplinary steps.

Consequently, the response to these changes show that GCPS policies are still a work in progress. As a possible solution to the surge in school violence, Dr. Watts is currently considering implementing metal detectors and scanners at every entrance in GCPS schools. Students may also be subject to in-school suspension (ISS) or out of school suspension (OSS). If the undesirable behavior is repeated; students can be sent to an alternative school. In response many parents applauded and were seemingly in favor when these possible changes were presented at the district board meeting.

In the coming months students and staff should expect major changes in their school. There is still time to repair the damage and keep order and safety in Gwinnett schools, allowing for the continuation of teaching and learning in a concentrated and vibrantly connected setting.