Changes need to be made to ISS to make it more effective

staff editorial

In School Suspension is a program used to discipline students while classes are in session. It has been used for decades and yet students don’t seem to be affected by the way it is designed.

Many students agree that ISS isn’t really a harsh punishment. So far this year, 57 different students, or 12 percent of the school’s student body have been assigned. Although this isn’t a high percentage, there are 13 students who have been assigned on multiple occasions.

When students are assigned to ISS they are told to report to the ISS classroom and they spend the day there. Once there, the ISS coordinator contacts teachers for work. And if and when work is sent, students work on it. This is one of the major issues with ISS. Students do not always receive work from their teachers, which gives them downtime. And this is when the trouble begins.

Because teachers can’t always drop what they are doing to pull together assignments at the last minute, each teacher should submit three lessons to the ISS instructor at the start of the school year. These lessons could be similar to their emergency lesson plans, and they could be used on occasions when teachers don’t respond to the work request. The ISS instructor should also have access to all teacher websites. If he or she can’t have access, the technology coordinator should be called in to help the ISS students get assignments or see what work is being missed in class that day. Making student tutors available will also help students stay focused in ISS. Sometimes, students struggle working through lessons on their own. If somebody is available to offer guidance and support, students won’t get behind from missing class and will stay focused during their ISS stay.

Behavior issues are often a driving force behind ISS referrals. Guidance could work with the ISS coordinator to design activities and exercises to improve student behavior. These activities could be used while waiting for teacher assignments or when students finish their work early.

During ISS, students are isolated from the student body. They spend the day in the ISS room, and they are not supposed to be on their phones. However, just like in the regular classroom setting, students sneak their phones. To solve this, students assigned to ISS should turn in their phones to the front office at the start of the day. If they don’t have them, the temptation is gone and they can focus on their assignments and correcting their behavior. 

Students don’t seem to take ISS as a serious punishment. Most students are not affected by the punishment because they know that it doesn’t go on their permanent record. This means that a student can get into trouble, get ISS and miss their classes without any real effect. Some students even use it as a way to escape important due dates for projects and presentations. Others want to be assigned to ISS so that they can catch up on missing work.

This doesn’t really make sense considering ISS is meant to be a punishment for a disciplinary infraction. A punishment is defined as “an infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.” But most students who have been assigned to ISS wouldn’t describe their ISS experiences this way.

An alternative or an addition to the current ISS system is an in-kind restitution. It is believed by many that if students are going to be punished their punishment should benefit the school or community. An in-kind restitution would require students who get in trouble to help  improve the school environment by fixing the problems that were caused by the student’s actions [if applicable] or by having the student improve the school environment by cleaning up around it.

To discipline students who are already being disciplined is not the intent of ISS. The purpose is to change behaviors. However, if students in ISS continually disobey the rules in ISS or use it as an escape from the school day they need the next level of punishment – out of school suspension or a Saturday detention. If this were enforced and these minor changes and tweaks were made, the ISS program could benefit those assigned more and ensure that students do not get assigned just to avoid class and our repeat offender’s list could be down to zero.