DANVILLE, Va. — Danville Public Schools has launched a new conduct policy for its school bus riders that seeks to better inform and involve parents.
“We believe that punitive action alone will not achieve the results we seek. We want to promote behavior change with students,” said Michael Adkins, the district’s director of transportation service. “To do that, we believe that parental engagement to help modify the behavior is a key element to success. This policy was designed around that.”
Development of the new code of conduct took seven months. Adkins reviewed policies from other school districts across the country, and he sought input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including school bus drivers, teachers, school administrators, parents and school board members.
“All of the information they provided helped us craft a policy for what we all felt was our need,” Adkins said.
The district piloted the basic policy on four buses from three schools over a six-week period and monitored the results. Adkins said that student behavior on the pilot buses improved considerably.
“The dramatic changes we saw on those buses are what encouraged us to move forward with this adoption,” he said.
Adkins said that the key goals of the new policy, which goes into effect for the 2014-15 school year, are to:
1. Give parents and school administrators a simple, understandable document of bus behavior expectations.
2. Require a written contract between schools and the parents and students to ensure understanding of expectations.
3. Provide school administrators with an approved policy to help them deal with behavior issues and punitive consequences.
4. Promote an opportunity for parental engagement to modify the behavior and return students to the bus.
5. Provide a safe and pleasant bus ride for all who ride the bus each day.
6. Establish trust and confidence with parents and citizens that children are safe riding the bus.
7. Provide an alignment of response throughout the entire district so that regardless of what school a child attends, the parent will know and understand what bus behavior expectations are and what consequences await for failure to follow the rules.
Danville Public Schools’ new bus conduct policy and its contract for parents and students can be viewed in the district’s overall student code of conduct here.