Beacon Hill and CSD host PBIS town hall


PBIS, which stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, is set to be implemented at some CSD schools in January 2020. The push for PBIS comes from the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights (Beacon Hill), working with the CSD Board of Education and Equity Committees at each school. On Thursday night, a town hall hosted by Beacon Hill at Renfroe Middle School was an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about PBIS.

PBIS is a framework that addresses and seeks to improve a school’s “climate”, by restructuring disciplinary systems and encouraging active, engaged classrooms based on “core values” the school system sets. 88.02% of PBIS schools have 4/5 or 5/5 star climate ratings, and over 26,000 schools across the country have implemented PBIS. Schools usually see an increase in academic achievement and decrease in disciplinary referrals following implementation.

PBIS was first introduced to the district by Beacon Hill in response to CSD being flagged in 2012-2013 by the State of Georgia as a school district with discipline disproportionality. There was a significantly higher amount of black students written up for “disrespectful behavior,” and with the framework of PBIS, CSD hopes to change that. In order to resolve the unequal amount of students receiving referrals, PBIS establishes a standard punishment for as many specific actions as possible, as opposed to more vague language like “harassment” or “disrespectful behavior.”

“[PBIS] takes the subjectivity out of the disciplinary process,” said Mawuli Davis, President of Beacon Hill.

The decision to implement is not without criticism. Within the last couple months, the program has received backlash from local parents and teachers in CSD Facebook groups. Some concerns include that the system could be a “token economy,” with little lasting effects on student morale and achievement, or that the system keeps teachers from disciplining students. Panelist Deborah Keane attributed the criticism to a lack of information about the system.

“There are consequences for negative behavior. [The consequences] may look different, but each school will develop a separate flowchart for punishments,” Keane said.

The PBIS framework alone doesn’t address the disciplinary disparities by race that CSD is facing, but is a format to implement other tools in the district, said panelist Daniel Crimmins. With the PBIS framework, CSD can easily track and examine teachers’ and students’ referrals for discrimination, said Maggie Fehrman.

Equity Director Lillie Huddleston, Board of Education members Garrett Goebel and Tasha White and Renfroe Principal Greg Wiseman were all in attendance. The process begins with teacher training in August 2019, and will be fully implemented K-5 in January 2020.


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.