W.Va. Board Strengthens Student Behavior Policy

December 15, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Board of Education has strengthened a state policy to reflect the board goal of developing the personal skills and dispositions of wellness, responsibility, cultural awareness, self-direction, ethical character and good citizenship in an environment that is caring and safe.

“A lot of time and effort was spent on hearing all concerns, opinions and ideas related to Policy 4373,” said Board President Wade Linger. “We have done a thorough job of listening to educators, county boards of education, students, parents and community members. Our unanimous vote to approve the updated policy acknowledges the thorough and thoughtful review process which included unprecedented stakeholder input.” 

Board members at their December meeting approved revisions to Policy 4373, Expected Behavior in Safe and Supportive Schools to incorporate several separate behavior-related guidelines into one cohesive policy. This revision repeals existing Policies 2421, Racial, Sexual, Religious/Ethnic Harassment and Violence; 2418, Regulations for Alternative Education Programs for Disruptive Students; 2422.5, Substance Abuse and Tobacco Control; and 4372, Student Handbook - Student Rights and Responsibilities.

“Students and teachers alike are entitled to a safe educational environment,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “This policy addresses behavior and school safety comprehensively by addressing inappropriate behaviors proactively to promote safe and supportive learning conditions.”

Evidence shows that positive behavior support systems can change the trajectory of students who are on a path toward destructive outcomes, as well as prevent the onset of negative behavior. More and more schools are finding that such comprehensive positive programs can reduce school disruption and improve school climate without reducing students’ opportunities to learn.

That is one reason the West Virginia Board of Education is a supporter of character education programs. Research shows that when combined with a solid student conduct policy, character education programs help create positive school environments that enhance learning.

“The expectations for student behavior are higher than ever,” said West Virginia Character Educator of the Year Deb Austin-Brown from Alban Elementary in Kanawha County.  “We must teach our children well and provide a solid foundation for building a successful future.  Character education is a critical building block.  It helps us to shift our focus from inappropriate behavior to the expected positive behavior of which each child is capable.”

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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