Trustees receive updates on suspensions, behavior interventions, and attendance patterns

PASO ROBLES — Trustees received an update on enrollment and suspensions within the district during the Tuesday night Paso Robles Joint Unified School District meeting on Dec. 12.

While suspensions are down compared to last year, there are still concerns over student behavior in the classroom.

“Just because we are seeing a reduction in suspensions does not mean we are seeing a reduction in those behaviors,” explained Director of Student Services Tom Harrington, who presented the new data.


He further explained that administrators are using different means of correction for misbehaving students as required by the state. They are resorting to using other interventions like online classes and group counseling for anger management and substance abuse at the middle schools and more counselors at every site. Harrington adds that they have more mental health therapists than the district has ever had.

The majority of violations that occur land in the following categories:

  • inappropriate behavior
  • electronic devices 
  • fighting
  • possession of controlled substances
  • defiance, disruption, and disrespect

Fighting, including suspension and nonsuspended incidents, was 235 last year and 196 this year. Harrington explained that he has always believed stress leads to this behavior, which is evident in the district. 

Harrington also informed trustees of a new law going into effect next year that will prohibit the district from suspending high school students for disruption and defiance. However, teachers can suspend students from their classes for two days.

Trustee Sondra Williams asked about getting data on race-related incidents.

“Having personal experience with this and having a lot of stories [continuously] shared with me collectively over years time, I feel like we don’t have a valid handle on the number of incidences that are happening,” said S. Williams.

She requested to have a report back on race-related and hate speech incidents within the district and what they consist of.

Inspired by a recent article referring to teachers in New York leaving education due to “unruly students,” Trustee Kenney Enney suggested surveying the district’s teachers on discipline and student behavior.

Staff agreed to bring back further data to trustees on student behavior at a later date.

Attendance each month since this August looks like this:

  • 08/14/23 to 09/08/23
    • Enrollment: 6,228
    • Monthly ADA: 5,921
    • Average ADA: 5,921
    • Budgeted ADA: 5,626
    • Percentage: 95 percent
  • 09/11/23 to 10/06/23
    • Enrollment: 6,247
    • Monthly ADA: 5,732
    • Average ADA: 5,842
    • Budgeted ADA: 5,626
    • Percentage: 93.76 percent
  • 10/09/23 to 11/03/23
    • Enrollment: 6,250
    • Monthly ADA: 5,801
    • Average ADA: 5,832
    • Budgeted ADA: 5,626
    • Percentage: 93.10 percent

The last month of the year, Harrington notes, is historically a lower month for attendance, but this year, they are seeing a higher percentage of attendance than last year. However, with the cold and flu season, they could see attendance begin to drop again.

The next Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m.