Students return to new behavior expectations at MMSD

Teachers in Madison's Metropolitan School District don't have to report for back-to-school duties until tomorrow.

At many of the schools, there are already teachers inside getting ready for the year.

"Many of them are already in their schools, setting up classrooms as we speak," said MMSD Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.

If you're heading to school, or sending your little one off, there will be some changes at MMSD. One of the biggest is their Behavior Education Plan. Their former Code of Conduct was a zero tolerance policy.

"We're moving this to a more positive teaching and learning model," said Cheatham. "That's more restorative, helping students learn what good behavior looks like."

Before, zero tolerance may have kicked kids out of school. Sometimes even the first time they got in trouble. This changes the approach.

"Rather than go straight to a disciplinary action, we want to pair that action with intervention. So, really working to understand why the child misbehaved. What was the root cause of that behavior? Is there something going on in their life so that we can address that issue as opposed to just the surface level behavior itself. We really want to understand why," said Cheatham.

While the district moves to make the school atmosphere more positive, they ask for parents help.

"We think that our efforts to better engage kids in the classroom will, in itself, help to improve attendance, but we need parents partnership in that work," said Cheatham.

After missing 18 days, students are considered a chronic absentee. Cheatham says it's a challenging problem for some students in the district.

"Start practicing waking up in time to get to school every day, just getting back into the regular routine of school," said Cheatham.

Cheatham recommends starting that school year sleep schedule now, to ensure getting to school on time next week.

The superintendent also reminds parents not to worry about being able to help kids with all aspects of their homework. She says asking them how things are going and staying engaged in their schooling is more important.

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