One of the biggest casualties of the pandemic was - and is - education. For the past few years, students around the United States learned a new way of going to school. Gone were the days of in-person learning as schools went remote to contain the effects of the coronavirus and prevent spread.
While that was necessary out of an abundance of caution, one of the casualties of those policies was behavioral regression in many students. High schools report a surge in the level of student misbehavior as students have returned to school in person.
All Schools Are Suddenly Grappling With Rampant Misbehavior
While many people may think that the schools experiencing disciplinary and behavioral issues are most likely schools that have had those issues in the past, recent data has shown a different reality as top schools with stellar reputations have also been forced to face harsh realities. Top private schools and local community schools both have been forced to learn how to confront various forms of student misconduct ranging from unauthorized collaboration on online exams involving an entire class to sexual misconduct under Title IX affecting entire school communities.
Although students themselves were more directly affected by the burdens caused by remote learning, parents have also been forced to recognize the consequences brought about by societal and educational changes since March 2020 when COVID first took hold in the United States. For example, parents in the relatively affluent suburb of Cherry Creek, Colorado, outside Denver, were surprised to receive a letter from their school district in November that expressed concern over recent increases in the number of behavioral incidents involving high-school students.
Like their public counterparts, top private high schools have also experienced serious concerns with student misconduct affecting both individual students and the community at large. At Concordia Preparatory School, a Lutheran campus outside Baltimore, for example, school administration, parents, and the community have been confronted with allegations of sexual exploitation and sexual assault. Home to about 275 students with annual tuition near $14,000 in its upper school, Concordia Preparatory School is a “Christ-centered community of servant leaders,” with a school dance dress-code policy that prohibits tight pants.
Despite what may be regarded as Concordia's efforts to keep students' potential indiscretions in check, a 14-year-old female student alleges in a lawsuit that a male student had asked her to show him her naked body on a FaceTime video — and when she complied, he recorded it without her knowledge and shared it with other students. The 14-year-old also alleged that another student sexually assaulted her in a locker room when she was cornered by a crowd of male students at the school.
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the struggles of Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. Schools like Southwood that face different daily concerns than exclusive private schools have also seen a disturbing increase in the frequency and types of errant student behavior, including misconduct caused in part by pent-up frustration with returning to a new school reality.
Southwood High School is a well-known institution in Shreveport with a student body of 1600 students, a 99% graduation rate, a biotechnology program, and a top football team.
In spite of these accolades, students at the school engaged in a violent brawl at the beginning of the school year, resulting in dozens of students fighting each other after an initial confrontation between two students. A total of 23 students were either expelled or arrested. The behavior stunned educators and highlighted the difficulties that many students are facing as they reacclimate into classroom environments.
There's a Wide Range of Disciplinary Issues
The types of problems that schools are experiencing range from minor infractions like talking in class to serious issues like gun possession. Some schools dealt with social media postings by students threatening disruption and violence.
The last full school year that was not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was the year 2018 to 2019. During the period that followed, there were a large number of students who suffered a loss of social skills, routines, and discipline.
Schools Are Trying New Approaches to Discipline
Some schools are trying different approaches to discipline. The LV Stockert middle school in Dallas used to suspend students who misbehaved before the pandemic. They now send them to in-school “reset centers” where they receive counseling.
Many schools are finding that this type of approach to behavioral issues caused by the pandemic is actually helpful. Not only are students getting help for their issues, but they are being allowed to talk about any mental health struggles they're dealing with, allowing teachers and educators to be better equipped to handle issues going forward. Many students in Dallas elementary schools now start their days with 45-minute social-emotional learning sessions where they engage in exercises like breathing exercises, sharing, and other practices that will help them reacclimate to the social behaviors needed in the school environment.
Get Legal Help If Your Child Is Facing Disciplinary Action
The past few years have been tough on everyone. Kids have had their entire school experiences upended, and many of them have struggled with disciplinary issues. If this is your child, you may need an attorney to help protect your child's reputation so that temporary issues don't put a cloud on their future.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have had years of experience helping parents and kids deal with the legal issues behind disciplinary issues. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule an evaluation of your child's case.