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School safety concerns discussed at KDE board meeting


Members of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council discussed school safety reports during their February council meeting.

Blake Konny, a Safe and Supportive Schools program consultant from KDE’s Office of Continuous Improvement and Support, said last year about 14% of all students in the commonwealth received a disciplinary referral. Referrals can be caused by anything from disrespecting a teacher, to bringing a weapon to school.

Of these referrals, most were dealt with via suspension, either in school or out-of-school, but Konny said this kind of reprimand can make problems worse.

“As a former administrator, a student comes back off suspension, they’re further behind, they’re frustrated because they’re far behind, and when people are frustrated, their behavior isn’t always their best,” said Konny.

Konny said while Kentucky schools are very safe, concerns like these shouldn’t be overlooked and that data from the last five years paint a troubling picture of students who are receiving referrals.

“Students that get free or reduced lunch made up 76.3% of all referrals in Infinite Campus last year, but they only make up 59.6% of the student population. So that’s kind of a disproportionality, so we’re looking at that and saying, “There’s a difference there”. And remember, data does not show cause, it just shows what is,” said Konny.

Konny said these are problems that the KDE and school boards need to address soon.