KISD admin building

The Killeen Independent School District’s administration building is seen Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, on W.S. Young Drive.

An African American student in the Killeen Independent School District is more likely to be placed in an alternative disciplinary setting than his Caucasian or Hispanic peers, according to data presented at the district’s board workshop meeting Tuesday.

During an overview of KISD’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP), presented by Deputy Superintendent Eric Penrod, a series of inequitable statistics emerged.

“When I look at the data, when I see 34% of our student body is African American, and I see 65% of our DAEP (Disciplinary Alternative Education Program) is African American, that is alarming to me,” Board secretary Brett Williams said Tuesday.

According to a data set called “Classroom removals by ethnicity for 2018-2019,” the last complete data set collected prior to the pandemic, Caucasian students account for 21.6% of the district’s students and 10.1% of DAEP placements.

Hispanic students make up about 30.6% of the KISD student population, according to the same data set, and 16.1% of DAEP placements.

While African American students account for 35% of the district’s students, but 65.9% of all DAEP placements during the 2018-2019 school year.

Penrod explained that the district is trying to better understand the data, while also focusing on decreasing the recidivism rate — the rate at which a former DAEP student is sent back to a DAEP campus.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are truly working towards understanding the trends and association of where we are placing students according to ethnicities,” Penrod told the board.

Newest Gateway Middle and High School principal Nino Etienne told the board he and his staff are trying to “shift the way people perceive Gateway itself.”

Etienne explained how in his short time at the DAEP campus he has prioritized a culture of positivity while shifting the focus away from a student’s bad behavior to root causes of the bad behavior.

“There are a few things I focused on when I got here a year and a half ago, and that was the academics, behavior, and the social and emotional learning,” he said.

“When it came to academics, one of the first things we saw right away was that most of our students who came to Gateway were failing one or more classes. So, if students are struggling academically, they’re more likely to continue to get in trouble.”

Etienne added tutorial opportunities and interventions at the campus, while emphasizing the need for a positive mindset, he said.

“We brought a lot of positivity to the campus,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that positivity breeds positivity.”

Now, based on some of the gains seen at Gateway, KISD is implementing a system of restorative practices district-wide to try to curtail the number of students who end up in a disciplinary setting.

“People don’t change their behavior when other people yell at them, shame them, or send them away to be alone,” KISD Executive Director of Student Services Sandra Forsythe told the board. “People change their behavior when they feel heard, understood and loved. Growth and change require connection and compassion. That’s restorative practices.”

Forsythe said she has trained all district administrators in restorative practices and that she plans to train all KISD teachers in the same manner.

“We want to teach the discipline we expect,” she said. “Just like we teach the reading, math, writing and social studies; we also have to teach the other subjects — behavior and discipline. Every incident does not have to be punitive in nature.”

Williams emphasized the importance of improving the district’s DAEP program.

“Those that fall through the cracks, they usually stay in the cracks right here,” Williams said. “If we can’t cultivate those kids, then shame on us. Everybody in life will make a mistake, but it’s all about what we do once our kids make a mistake. That’s why this DAEP program is so important in how we follow-up with it.

The board secretary said the district still has “a ways to go.”

“We haven’t won the Super Bowl, but we’re on track to making the playoffs.”

Superintendent John Craft applauded Etienne for his work at the Gateway campuses and said he looked forward to continued DAEP improvements.

“As an organization as large as we are, we always continuously work to improve,” Craft said. “DAEP is the after-effect. There’s a whole lot that transpires before we even get to a hearing and a student becoming enrolled in DAEP. That’s where I’m really excited about the work, addressing it there (at a student’s home campus), before they get to Gateway.”

The DAEP agenda item was presented during the workshop Tuesday for informational purposes only. No action was taken by the board regarding the DAEP program.

ldodd@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(4) comments

Blackparent

I noticed this as well when the principal at Westward continuously tried to send my child to alternative School . After I continuously explained how's in the process of finding out if he had ADHD. However the principal even made a comment saying that if she could suspend him she would have. mind you he's only in 1st grade. Which I find very absurd. A child that young is still trying to figure out life and their selves. I even asked what are some other options for instance a meditation corner a reflection time something that could guide them versus just going straight to disciplinary(or what they love to do build a "paper trail"). And you know what she did she laughed and said this is kisd. I didn't find it quite funny, So I asked her how can you expect a child to have an A+ behavior when for the last few years your school has been rated F? *Crickets*

I think a lot of our issues derived from the problem that since it's public School the students there get the bare minimum of opportunities as far as learning and guidance. Second the classroom sizes are bigger, which causes students not to be able to learn at their own pace within each subject. This causes an increase in what teachers claim to be a " disruptive behavior" when in actuality they just can't handle the amount off students to teacher ratio while still giving each student that one to one guidance ability. which leads to kids start falling through the cracks, disciplinary actions, being sent to alternative School and unfortunately majority of those students are black. Which makes me concerned with these new schools that they have built. Because they've already Stated instead of keeping the old schools and utilizing the new schools as well they're closing all the other schools and combining them into one. And that is why I have pulled my black children from the kisd district. Another thing I've noticed is I've yet to see a black principal/AP🧐 WHY IS THAT?

Shaun78

I'm a black/former school teacher with KISD and unfortunately it's true. The most problematic students were black. It was exhausting to deal with. It's not the district. It's lack of home training and correction. Teachers can only do so much yet expected to perform miracles. Parents have to do their part.

Killeen patriot

having worked in KISD, I can tell you that school administrators are, first, very diverse. I would say there are more administrators of color in KISD. Yes, there is a disparity of black students going to DAEP, because those are the students who are continually violating school policies. They are the ones getting in fights, threatening others with harm, causing classroom disruption to the point a teacher cannot teach. KISD has a process that gives students multiple chances to change their behavior, prior to send them to Gateway. There are a very limited number of offenses that will send you straight to Gateway. However, even with in school suspension, Saturday detention, and opportunities to comply, these students still continue to act out. If we really want to get to the root cause of why more Aftican-American students go to gateway, then we need to look at their home. A greater percentage of these students come from single parent homes. These parents are doing their best to work and provide for their children, but they might be working 2 jobs. This limits the amount of time they have helping to teach their children how to be good citizens. So we cannot fault KISD. They truly try as hard as they can to keep students out of Gateway, but try as they might.... some students just refuse to change.

don76550

You don't suppose their habitual disproportionate bad behavior would have anything to do with it, do you?

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