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Discipline policy is necessary in schools

It seems it is getting more and more difficult to do what should be the simplest, yet is the most demanding task in our nation — educating our children.

While funding issues have been front and center lately in the headlines with Initiative 42 on the November ballot, the state department of education also has taken up the problem of properly disciplining students.

During public hearings this week in the state capital, it came to light that Mississippi is one of five states without a policy or law when it comes to governing how school employees should restrain misbehaving or disruptive students. The Mississippi Department of Education has drafted a policy and is seeking public comment before presenting the proposal to the state board of education in November. The proposal on seclusion and restraint outlines what school employees should do if a student becomes disruptive and is a threat to themselves or others.

“Under no circumstances shall restraint or seclusion be utilized as a punitive measure,” the proposed policy states. As well as, “physical restraints that restrict the flow of air are prohibited in all situations.”

Parents spoke out during the hearings and told of horror stories where their children were physically restrained or isolated by school personnel. Some of those students had learning disabilities, which the parents said further traumatized their child.

While we agree that children with known mental disabilities should be treated in a different manner when it comes to discipline for their behavior, other students who are in school and disrupt the learning process should also be dealt with properly by school personnel as if they were their own child. Common sense would indicate a parent would not use handcuffs to restrain a child or place a child in a wooden box known as a “chill zone.” We wouldn’t place our child in a dark closet until they calmed down and neither should educators.

The MDE should be commended for finally taking up this issue of discipline and making sure our children are treated as if they were in our home.

Our children are our most prized possession and their safety should be of the utmost importance when they leave our homes each morning to receive an education. It’s time we made that a priority.