Kirkwood High School student newspaper

Erica Miget

Trouble with ISS

December 14, 2015

So far this year, 192 students have been assigned In-School Suspension (ISS). They sit in NW-145, a small room with six computers, an iPad charging area and tables to work on school projects. There is no talking, no electronics, except for iPads, and students have to do schoolwork the whole time.

Ta’J- Imani Liddell, sophomore, sat in ISS for the whole school day, Oct. 15, feeling frustrated and confused about the schoolwork she was assigned. Although students are technically in school during this time, they miss classroom material and class time; therefore, some fall behind.

“Teachers complain about us not being in class all the time and that [we aren’t] getting our work done,” Liddell said. “But with having us in ISS, [they’re] taking us out of those classes. Some kids are visual learners so they need a teacher to sit there and guide them [through a lesson] step-by-step instead of just getting notes sent down to ISS.”

Ben Woolf, ISS supervisor, said he uses Infinite Campus to see what assignments students are missing. There are walking counselors at KHS certified in math, business and English who can help students during ISS.

“Most of the time, if you get ISS you are [already] behind in school because you keep getting in trouble, or are missing school or are not doing what you are supposed to be doing already,” Woolf said.

A student is assigned ISS if they exhibit inappropriate behavior requiring administrative intervention or other repeated offenses, according to the KHS Student Handbook. These offenses can include tardies, disruption of classes or inappropriate interactions with other students or teachers. There are 44 students who have been in ISS multiple times this year.

“Students are expected to do schoolwork or research and this comes from the ISS teacher communicating with the teachers and students communicating with the teachers,” Dr. Michael Havener, principal, said. “We have a variety of methods that students can communicate with teachers about work. The expectation is working towards completion and mastery of curriculum.”

In order to catch up on schoolwork, Liddell has to meet with her teachers after school or during homeroom. Students can be released from ISS for activities that cannot be missed with permission from a teacher and grade level principal.

“If they let you go to classes [more frequently] to get help, that would [make ISS more reasonable],” Liddell said. “Let’s say [a teacher] sent me down notes and I didn’t understand them, then I’m sitting there confused and I can’t do the homework because I don’t understand the notes.”

Mike Wade, associate principal, said a student is supposed to be notified about ISS the day before so they can coordinate with teachers and get their work. He said teachers sending assignments on eBackpack would improve communication. Also, teachers could be assigned to help in ISS like they do in the Pride Center.

“ISS is not supposed to be fun,” Wade said. “They don’t eat lunch with everybody else. It’s a punishment, but they’re still at school so I think that’s good because police can monitor them and know that they’re here. The people who run ISS build relationships with those kids and I think that’s the whole reason kids succeed because they know that people care about them and can trust them and they’ll work hard.”

According the KHS Student Handbook, ISS is designed to be a positive and supportive educational environment while also serving as a disciplinary consequence. Wade said there are five levels to disciplinary consequences. A teacher handles level one by calling home, and level five behaviors such as hitting a teacher or bringing a gun to school can result in a year-long suspension. The levels in between are detentions or ISSs that can build up for multiple times.

“The first thing I’d like to change is [to decrease the amount of] people being assigned ISS because of infractions being broken,” Havener said. “Besides that, I think getting work accomplished at a higher rate would be the first thing. I don’t want an area in the school where students are not being productive, and for lack of a better term, wasting time.”

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