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Code of conduct changes now in effect at Benton Harbor Schools

BENTON HARBOR, Mi. --- A string of fights at Benton Harbor high school last week has resulted in a new code of conduct introduced to students today (Monday).

Holding students accountable for their actions won’t just come in the form of punishment. Superintendent and CEO of Benton Harbor Schools Dr. Robert Herrera said schools will also be tailoring learning curriculums for students with disruptive behavior.

Only students who face consequences such as explusion will be sent to Dream Academy, an alternative school for students who can’t cooperate at their native school. Otherwise, if their needs can be met at the high school, students with disruptive behaviors won’t be sent to alternative school.

“Really the only changes to the code of conduct are the consequences,” Herrera said.  “We have a fairly disorderly environment at the high school. And I would use the term fairly as being conservative when I describe it.”

The updated code of conduct is among many changes coming to Benton Harbor high school. Herrera said the district is working on adding more safety monitors and hiring a school resource officer.

Starting this week there will also always be a police officer on campus until a school resource officer can be hired.

“We’ll be able to address behaviors that are violent on the spot now,” Herrera said.

Punishment will not be the focus of the consequences outlined in the code of conduct, but rather implementing better learning strategies for unruly students who disrupt learning environments.

“Basically what we’re talking about is choosing programming options that better fit the students need at the high school,” Herrera said. “If I were a student and I could not make the first hour very well and I have a high absenteeism first hour, well maybe for that student, for that behavior an online class first hour so they could do it at home.”

Herrera is hopeful these changes will result in changed behaviors from students but said the new code of conduct is not a cure-all. The updated code is what every school typically already has in place. Benton Harbor high school will now have to focus on enforcing those consequences.

“It will also be easier to communicate to students what consequences will follow for student behavior so they are aware of those prior to engaging in something that would lead to some level of suspension or exclusion from school,” Herrera said.

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