Parents in Portland, Oregon are raising concerns over the way one school disciplines its students.
The César Chávez K through 8 school has incorporated a “community service” program into its curriculum that requires students to do chores when they get in trouble. Punishments include picking up trash in hallways and paper towels from bathrooms.
However, after parents began to complain that it made their children feel “humiliated,” the school chose to put the disciplinary method on hold as the Portland Public Schools district investigates, writes Beth Greenfield for Yahoo.
“My son has been humiliated and he’s frightened to go to school, and he feels sorry and has some esteem issues. I just don’t think that’s right,” Jeff Hagadorn, the father of a first grader, told KPTV. He noted, “I feel like if a student gets in trouble I’m fine with him having detention or having extra school work.”
Spokesperson for Portland Public Schools Christine Miles said that the goal of the program is to create alternative consequences to traditional methods of punishment such as suspension, expulsions and additional homework. Miles went on to say that research shows those traditional punishments to be ineffective, causing negative consequences for students. She said that the program has been put on hold while the district ensures that it is being employed properly within the school.
“We’re trying to see if the chores match the discipline,” Miles explains. “If they make a mess, they have to clean it up. If they hurt someone, they have to apologize. If they are involved in a food fight, then part of the discipline is to correct their behavior by them cleaning it up — but if they’re being instructed to instead be cleaning up the restrooms, that’s not okay.”
Miles said there could be some confusion surrounding a separate program being carried out at other district schools for “restorative justice” discipline. The approach is beginning to gain traction on a national level, hoping to create an open relationship between students and teachers rather than pursuing the “zero tolerance” approaches such as suspension. While there are six schools in the district using the method, the César Chávez school is not one of them.
Miles did admit that an administrator from the school did attend one of the trainings for restorative practices, but went on to say that the investigation will ensure that the school is using its own version of it correctly.