Editor’s note: The above video aired on Dec. 14, 2021.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Public Schools is putting new rules in place to deal with fights on its campuses.
WHO 13 News spoke with parents this week concerned about the number of fights and lack of policy changes to address it. Now, the district is putting a new policy into place immediately for all Des Moines middle schools and high schools.
If a student is involved in a fight, they will be placed on a behavior contract to resolve any issues that led to incident. Should a second fight occur, the student will be moved to online learning for 30 days. The school will still provide support to work on what is causing the bad behavior. If a third fight takes place after that, the student will go back to online learning for 60 days.
District leaders say they are also investing in camera technology and door security as well as working with parents and community leaders to address conflicts.
Superintendent Tom Ahart said the district is still committed to restorative practices, but the policy changes were needed to address safety at school.
Ahart released a message about the need for community support to improve student behavior. It read, in part:
While these changes are being implemented, it’s important to note one fact: the time students are in class during the school year is a little more than 12% of the entire year. In other words, if the community wants to see a change in behavior it is going to take all of us, not some of us. Let’s all model the change that we would like to see.
As a community, we expect our schools to be fully inclusive environments where students and staff alike feel safe. DMPS is committed to creating spaces where students, teachers, administrators, and families feel welcome and where positive relationships are built and maintained.
We urge families to review this policy with their students, reflect on the impact and potential consequences of unsafe behavior in school, and most importantly, critically examine the influences in their student’s environment from media to social media to family and friends.
Our state and our nation need a lot of intentional work to return to a place where civility is again normal behavior. Until then, DMPS will take necessary measures to maintain a safe learning and working environment for all.Superintendent Tom Ahart
Read Ahart’s full message here.