Over the past three years, the number of expulsions in the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District has fallen, but the number of total discipline incidents has stayed about the same.
The Indian Policies and Procedures report includes details about discipline, attendance and test scores provided by the district and the Colorado Department of Education. The district released the report in October.
The report reveals the amount of disciplinary actions taken by the district on all students from the 2013 to 2016 school years.
District-wide, 270 behavior incidents during the 2015-2016 school year resulted in five expulsions and 265 out-of-school suspensions, according to CDE. Those numbers include Southwest Open School and Children’s Kiva Montessori charter schools.
Consequences differ among studentsRe-1 Assistant Superintendent Dan Porter, who handles district discipline, said that the number of expulsions and suspensions varies over the years. The consequence for a violation may vary depending on a student’s situation.
“The intent is to provide good, safe education for all kids,” he said.
Administrators tailor consequences to individuals to have the most impact, said M-CHS Principal Jason Wayman.
“You have to have a balance in consequence and learning that supports the kids. You have to have consistency there so you’re not playing favorites,” he said. “We look at the data to make sure we’re not unduly targeting one population or the other. ... It’s a tough balance, for sure.”
M-CHS reports 108 suspensionsAt Montezuma-Cortez High School during the 2015-2016 school year, 112 behavior incidents resulted in four expulsions and 108 out-of-school suspensions. The incidents involved 77 students.
Two expulsions were attributed to drug and marijuana violations and two were attributed to code of conduct violations.
Two of the four expelled M-CHS students were Native American, one was Hispanic, and one was white. Porter didn’t identify races of students who were involved in more than one incident, saying that doing so might identify the individuals involved.
SWOS reported five behavior incidents, resulting in one expulsion of a Native American for a marijuana violation and four suspensions.
Middle School suspends 96
No students were expelled from Cortez Middle School in the 2015-2016 year, but 96 incidents resulted in out-of-school suspensions for 73 students.
Discipline in past years
The number of suspensions and expulsions has been up and down over the past three school years, according to them IPP report.
In the 2014-15 school year, there were six expulsions at M-CHS and none at SWOS, as well as 113 suspensions.
At CMS during the 2014-15 school year, there were seven expulsions, including four Native students, two Hispanic students and one white student. There also were 142 suspensions.
In the 2013-14 year, there were five expulsions at M-CHS and two at SWOS, all involving Native American students. There were 94 suspensions.
At SWOS, there were 11 suspensions, with six involving white students, three involving Native American students and two involving Hispanic students.
In the 2013-14 school year at CMS, eight students were expelled, including five white students, two Native American students and one Hispanic student. There were 126 suspensions.
District, Utes improve communicationDistrict officials are working to improve their communication with the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, Porter said. Superintendent Haukeness last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the tribe, allowing the district and the tribe to share student information in order to better use resources from both organizations, Porter said.
“Our communication with the tribe is only getting better,” he said.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe K-12 Education Director Tina King-Washington said Re-1 Superintendent Lori Haukeness and Porter have been helpful.
“They have been a wonderful resource for us,” she said. “I have hopes that our communication will continue to get better under their administration.”
King-Washington hopes that the MOU will allow the tribal education department to be proactive in dealing with students’ issues. Previously, a parental release was required, and tribal officials sometimes didn’t know about discipline incidents until students were already in expulsion hearings, she said.
Counseling and treatment services are available for free to tribal students, including a full medical staff and child psychologist, she said. There are lots of resources available for students, she said.
“Talking about issues before they happen to get a head start before they show up as a discipline issue — that’s one thing we need to work on,” King-Washington said.
What about bullying?No single disciplinary category includes every instance of bullying, and the IPP report doesn’t include data on the number of bullying incidents. Those may be categorized as “detrimental behavior,” “assault” or another category in the report.
But staff members investigate every report of bullying, Wayman said.
There were fewer than 10 instances of bullying in which students received disciplinary action at M-CHS during the 2015-2016 school year, he said. Cortez Middle School Principal Glenn Smith was not sure how many bullying incidents had occurred during that time.
Very few students experience one-sided bullying at M-CHS, Wayman said. More often, two students have a conflict with each other, and those issues can usually be solved with mediation and communication, he said.
“If it is truly bullying, there’s no room for it,” Wayman said.
Not every incident of bullying is investigated by police, Porter said. Police will investigate assaults as well as possession of a drug or dangerous weapons, he said.
Wayman said police also get involved if there is a verbal threat of violence from one student to another.
School Resource Officers (SROs) report to both the police department and the school district, and both agencies pay a portion of their salary, Porter said.
Under Colorado state law, bullying is defined as “any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental, or emotional harm to any student.”
“Bullying is not tolerated in any of our schools,” Haukeness said.