The Buncombe County Alternative to Suspension program is designed to address the behavioral needs of students in grades 9-12 who are being suspended for 5 to 10 days due to serious discipline issues. In examining suspension data from the 2008-09 school year, there were a significant number suspensions for more than 5 days and multiple suspensions for certain students that often resulted in a recommendation for long-term suspension. The Buncombe County Board of Education asked for a plan to be developed to positively address this issue.
The resulting BCATS program is a positive behavior support initiative that will determine the causes and circumstances in which students receive suspensions and assist students and schools in developing strategies to prevent further disciplinary actions.
The goals of this program are:
To decrease the number of days of instruction lost to Out-of-School Suspension.
To decrease the number of Long-Term Suspensions due to repeated disciplinary infractions.
To increase the academic/behavior success of students who attend the BCATS program as measured by their grades, attendance, and discipline upon return to their base schools.
All students in grades 9-12 who are assigned Out-of-School suspension for 5 to 10 days will be offered the opportunity to attend the BCATS program. Since it is an optional program, parents/guardians must be notified and give permission for students to attend. Students who are unaccompanied youth or who are over 18 years old and living on their own can agree to go to BCATS without parental permission.
However, for both types of students, any additional disciplinary infraction while in the BCATS program will result in the immediate implementation of the remainder of the Out-of-School Suspension period. Students who are under probation from the Department of Juvenile Justice may be required to attend the BCATS program in consultation with their Court Counselor.
Certified teachers will provide academic instruction and support on course material from each student’s current schedule for two 90-minute blocks. Base schoolteachers are required to provide assignments and any needed material either by e-mail, website, or sending it directly with the students. Work is checked for completion and accuracy and sent back to the base school teacher for final grading. The third block class will provide behavior assessment and instruction related to the issues that resulted in the suspension. Students will identify contributing factors and behavior triggers as well as alternative strategies that would be more adaptive. Students, in consultation with the BCATS teachers, Student Response Team Leaders, and Graduation Initiative staff, will begin development of plans to address academic, behavior, attendance, and personal needs that can be implemented in the base school setting. Base school personnel are encouraged to communicate regularly with the BCATS staff and unit wide support personnel to implement any strategies identified while in BCATS.
Both the SRT-Ls and the Graduation Initiative representatives will assist the students in their transitions back to base schools and monitor their progress. In NCWISE, the student is recorded as present at the base school for the number of days they are in attendance at BCATS. If the student misses a day of BCATS for any reason, that day will be recorded as OSS. Discipline should be coded in NCWISE as ALP (Alternative Program). BCATS teachers will send/FAX attendance and coding information to the data manager in the base school.