Photo shows Espanola Schools Superintendent Eric Martinez at work in his office. Photo by Robert A. Naranjo / valleydailypost.com
Changing The Culture Of Student Misbehavior In District
Pro Sec Guards Replaced With Counselors, Teachers, Social Workers
By Robert A. Naranjo
At the regularly scheduled Espanola School Board meeting, held July 6, at the Carlos Vigil Middle School,
the change in direction when dealing with student misbehavior was evident when the District’s Superintendent, Eric Martinez, made
the decision and recommendation to not renew the Pro Sec contract, worth $280,000 base amount, that its owner, Elias Coriz held for 12 years. Pro Sec had security guards at the high school and mid school,and would provide guards for special
events that would raise the contract amount at the end of the School Year (SY) between 20 and 30 thousand dollars.
For example in SY 2014-15, the District, as per contract, plus special event add ons, paid Pro Sec $311,362.15 and in
SY 2015-16, and $323,976.21. Martinez said that it wasn’t because of the quality of work that Pro Sec did, because they
fulfilled what the contract called for–a professional services.
Instead, it’s really not so much about the Pro Sec as much a desire by the superintendent and administration to “change the
culture” relating to student misbehavior in the District. Gone with the Pro Sec guards will be the time-honored “ISS” or In
School Suspension, and out right suspension from schoolfor more serious offenses, and the like. Students getting caught
by guards doing something wrong and against school policy or state law, and turning them in to school administration for
ISS or suspension from school will be change in attempt to help the student with the underlying cause of the
misbehavior and assist them keeping pace with their peers in schoolwork.
Replacing these long-time administrative practices to deal with student disruption and misbehavior is a four-prong approach
that benefits the student the most. “We are going to surround them with help,” Martinez told the Valley Daily Post.
“Many times, misbehavior by a students is indicative of an underlying problem,” he said. He said that in studies that he
has done that looked at students with misbehavior and who had exorbitant school days missed, showed a progressive
falling of grades and corresponding missing days of school. Students who had good elementary attendance
and performance saw grades drop precipitously and days missed soared. Family issues at home was the common
denominator across the board.
Divorce, grandparents raising grandchildren, and other social issues caused dysfunction in the family. In some cases,
older siblings were becoming de-facto parents, i.e., getting younger siblings ready for school, etc. and eventually it
reached a breaking point, causing the issues for the older sibling at school. Although the District obviously can’t fix
issues in the student’s home, it can offer the vitally necessary teaching, counseling, and a social
worker’s assistance to help the student get back on track educationally and emotionally to the best degree possible.
The four-prong approach is a graduated approach of consequences for a student’s misbehavior and disruption in
class with four programs the District is implementing using funding from the old Pro Sec contract. The programs,
created fully or in part by a school professional out of Virginia, Dr.
Tom Graves, Martinez and District staff, are as follows:
1.) STOP or “Student Time Out Program.” Behavior altering program is held during the day. Students get counseling,
academic help, then sent on their way to their next class. .
2.) Opportunity School. Held from 1-5 pm, this program has educational support by a teacher and support from a
counselor. This is in lieu of suspension from school. Teacher will touch base with student to get them ready to repeat
a make up failed test or, school project. Students will not be allowed o earn an “F.” Teachers, counselors,
social workers will work in concert to get it it done right in the first place, that’s the goal.
3) School Improvement Detail. Students meet with administrator at 6 am. Meet parents at 6 a.m also. These students
get the school ready with school improvement projects. Again, teachers, counselors, there to help address student
issues that may be causing the problems.
4.) Saturday School. The No F’s program. Students are afforded the opportunity to do school work and get back on
pace with their fellow students. Again, teachers, counselors and social workers there to help.
Martinez says the entire re-tooling in addressing student misconduct is in the best interest of the student. Another
change that is dramatically different than generation of students have ever known is the nine (9) weeks grading period.
But it may two long a period of time to help students. A parent once told him, “If I only knew that my child was
close to failing or failing, I would have done something about it,” he said.
But sometimes nine weeks is too much to backtrack and make up in school work, but three weeks isn’t for report card.
And, he said, teachers are required to have two grades in thegrade books per week, so after three, it’s a pretty good
indicator of what can be expected or not expected at the end of a semester. It has worked for him before, and he
expects it to work in the Espanola School District as well. Martinez calls it a “proactive” approach instead of a “reactive”
approach in helping students
iron out issues and remain in school by stopping “unwarranted behavior and surround the student with help,” Martinez
says. After all, as many elected officials and others are fond of stating: “It’s all about the kids.” Agreed, and the
District’s Superintendent Martinez is making changes to make it truly “all about the kids.”