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Mondays with Maria - 12/5/22
Posted on 12/05/2022
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Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vazquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools and this is Mondays with Maria.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everybody, I'm Nancy Alvarez.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Nancy, I have been looking over some of the topics that our audience is interested in and a recurring theme is behavior and discipline.

Nancy Alvarez: Yeah, it certainly is something that, you know, we've seen an uptick in since the pandemic. There certainly has been a change, especially as it relates to mental health of our students. We have done several stories about this already in the schools. The district now has a tiered approach to how they address the issues with these students. Let's talk a little bit more about that and that framework that was introduced.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Yes, we have a tiered system approach. The first tier is tier one that addresses lessons for the entire class and those primarily focus on life skills, a positive school climate and character education. And so students have an understanding of what those expectations are in the school.

Nancy Alvarez: It's sort of the foundation for everybody. One of the concerns mentioned on ThoughtExchange was the amount of disrespect, fighting, bullying. You know, we hate that it happens, but we have to talk about it because that's the reality. How are kids learning in this environment? It has to be hard.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: It is. And they really cannot learn when there are those disruptions. And it's very concerning when these disruptions and situations occur in the classroom. That's why we have a code of student conduct that clearly delineates what the expectations are, what the offenses are, what the consequences are. And one of the things that we have tried to institute as part of that is restorative practices where children are actually able to have conversations about conflicts that they're having with another student.

Nancy Alvarez: It's so important that parents understand that code of conduct and they go over it with their kids at home as well and do their part because we're all in it together. I read another thought that the concern is more about the more violent acts on school campuses

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And we have certainly seen an uptick in the number of fights and violent situations after the pandemic. And there's a direct correlation with that and mental health. And so we have a lot of supports that are available for our students in dealing with conflict resolution so that when they encounter a problem, they don't directly go to an aggressive response, that they deal with it in a calm and respectful manner. It's critical that we address those situations in a proper way and that students and parents know that we have so many resources to help them deal with some of the mental health issues and aspects that have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

Nancy Alvarez: Yeah. And you mentioned the tiered framework. That's when we get into tier two and tier three and that's where we find children who may need a little more support.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: That's right Nancy. So tier two focuses on small group instruction and so those students will get skills that they may need additional support with life skills. It also includes student check-ins to make sure how are they doing. And then tier three is a more individualized approach -- individual counseling as well as our threat or crisis response.

Nancy Alvarez: And creating it in that way, in those tiers certainly helps ensure as much as possible that no kids fall through the cracks.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: That's the goal.

Nancy Alvarez: Yes, we are certainly going to continue to do these stories to help the conversation and continue it and ensure that parents know where they can go for help and support.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And it's critical that they understand that we're partners if we're going to address the issues that we see with discipline and behavior. Thank you all for watching. We will also keep the dialogue open on ThoughtExchange. Remember to visit the ThoughtExchange link on your screen right now. I want everyone to be part of our conversation.

Nancy Alvarez: Stay tuned for another Mondays with Maria next week. We'll see you.