Watson Chronicle


Education Updates and Features

Officials Sign Agreement to Change Disciplinary Practices in Schools

Monday, November 02, 2015

In 2013, District Attorney Ben David and Chief District Court Judge J.H. Corpening II created a Safer Schools Task Force of New Hanover and Pender Counties to study the issue of school safety. The 20-member group, made up of educators, researchers, social workers, school counselors and law enforcement officials, issued their findings and recommendations in December 2013.

A subgroup of the Safer Schools Task Force has worked for the past 18 months on an effort initiated by Judge Corpening to stop the school-to-prison pipeline by changing the disciplinary practices in New Hanover County Schools.

On Oct. 6, the New Hanover County School Board unanimously signed an interagency governance agreement on the handling of school offenses. On Nov. 2, the agreement was publicly signed by 13 local leaders including New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley, New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous, District Attorney Ben David and New Hanover County Department of Social Services Director Michelle Winstead in a ceremony held at Roland-Grise Middle School.

The agreement aims to initiate positive, preventative measures and end law enforcement involvement with minor offenses that occur in schools.

Judge Corpening called November 2 “a historic day.”

“This is the first agreement like this in North Carolina,” he said. Law enforcement is in the schools “for safety, for security, for building relationships with the students not to criminalize student behavior,” he said in an interview published by WWAYTV3.

Watson College professor and Dropout Prevention Coalition co-coordinator Janna Robertson served on the Safer Schools Task Force and assisted with development of the new governance agreement by compiling national, state and local research and resources related to reducing suspensions, expulsions and incarceration of juveniles or young adults.

Other members of the UNCW Watson College of Education Dropout Prevention Coalition that made significant contributions toward the development and adoption of the interagency agreement are Rev. Clifford Barnett, Kathy Stoute, Judy Stubblefield and Karen Beatty. 

The contributions of Corpening, Robertson and others were recognized in an editorial in the StarNews on Nov. 6. View the editorial here: www.starnewsonline.com/article/20151105/ARTICLES/151109816/1108/editorial?Title=Our-View-Early-intervention-can-help-students

The Inter-Agency Governance Agreement is available here: www.nhcs.net/board/2015/Oct/AppendixF.pdf

View Press Coverage of the agreement signings:

StarNews article Oct. 6, “Board Oks school offenses agreement

StarNews article Nov. 2, “School Misconduct Agreement Signed

WECT article Nov. 2 “Schools and law enforcement sign agreement to improve student behavior

WWAY article Nov. 2, “Agreement signed about school safety procedures in New Hanover County