OXFORD — After-school detentions on Fridays will be eliminated at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School this school year in favor of doing more in-house suspensions for students needing disciplinary support.

“We think this will be much more effective,” Assistant Principal Paul Bickford said.

Bickford and high school Principal Ted Moccia told SAD 17 directors Monday that Friday detention has not been very successful because often a student is being disciplined a week after the incident and then it escalates into a repeat incident. “Something that is started two weeks ago in the classroom is still being resolved,” Bickford said.

“In-school suspension is not a fun place to be,” he said of the action which will have a strictly academic focus.

The remark was made during a presentation by the high school and Oxford Hills Middle School administrators about the number of discipline cases at both schools during the 2008-2009 school year.

At the high school Bickford and Moccia said 230 students received office detention; 150 in-school suspension, 126 out-of-school suspension, 210 Friday detention and four students were expelled.

A total of 388 students out of the 1,100-member student body were involved in some form of discipline action during the school year, including 239 repeat offenders in a total 1,246 events.

Bickford said the majority of cases were ninth- and 10th-graders. The No. 1 problem was attendance, Bickford said,  followed by issues caused by students not getting along.

“Most of our kids are doing what they’re suppose to be doing,” he said.

At the middle school, Principal Troy Eastman reported 137 office detentions, 73 out-of-school suspensions, 46 Friday detentions and two expulsions. There was an overall 148 students receiving discipline, including 97 repeat offenders in 523 total events.

Eastman said discipline at the middle school has fewer options but an in-school suspension “would be great.” 

He said staff try to improve the numbers by “building of positive behavior.  We focus more on the 77 percent that are making good decisions,” he said.

Moccia said that ultimately the way to stop the discipline issues is “getting kids involved,” he said. “They have to feel they have a voice.”

Superintendent Mark Eastman said another very positive method to reduce discipline issues was an after-school detention class that focuses on ethical issues and making restitution to the victims.

The class was made possible several years ago through a one-time $37,000 criminal justice grant.

“We saw numbers go dramatically down,” he said of discipline events.

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