By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
“Today is a conversation about action,” said Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romules Durant, EdD, as he led off a press conference announcing TPS new initiative, The Restart – Refocus – Respect Plan (or the Three Rs), designed to improve safety, discipline and student accountability.
Accompanying Durant were leaders or representatives from more than a dozen and a half community, religious and social action groups that are partnering with TPS on this initiative.
The Three Rs lays out the various ways in which TPS will be holding “students accountable for their actions while at school in an effort to ensure their safety,” states the plan in its introduction, while calling for students, staff members and community members to report suspicious behavior that would impose a threat to that safety.
“We are coming together to be unified,” said Durant of TPS and its community partners in their efforts to address violence within schools and in the community.
The Three Rs plan calls for behavior intervention on students’ discipline by means of standards established through the Student Code of Conduct.
The plan, as Durant emphasized last week, will be partially enforced by ensuring that mandates regarding entry and transportation measures are in place. Metal detectors are in the high schools, Department of Public Safety officers are on the premises as K-9 units from the Toledo Police Department.
The plan bans outside food, unless it is part of lunch, puts limits of the use of cell phones and social media and addresses the issues of parent engagement and accountability as a “shared responsibility.”
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, research shows that parent engagement in schools is closely linked to better students’ behavior, higher academic achievement and enhanced social skills,” reads the Three Rs report. “Parent engagement also makes it more likely that students will avoid unhealthy actions, such as sexual risk behaviors and substance use.”
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing level of violence at various levels of society, TPS is planning on emphasizing the problems of students who are struggling with mental health and wellness issues.
In November 2021, the Toledo Board of Education passed a resolution to promote student wellbeing by prioritizing social and emotional learning for students and staff.
The Office of Positive School Climate will provide tools, says the plan, to enable students to: recognize and manage their emotions; demonstrate caring and concern for others and establish positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
These goals, according to the plan, can be attained through the assistance of resources available to the district such as social workers, psychologists and representatives from local mental health agencies working with the school system.
The groups that will working with TPS on the Three Rs plan to Restart … Refocus … Respect are: the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; the United Pastors for Social Empowerment; Toledo Community Coalition; The Tabernacle Church; NAACP; Boys & Girls Club; the YMCA, the Junction Coalition, Frederick Douglass Community Association; Laborers Local 500; The Movement; the City Park League; TPS Attendance Champions; the Buffalo Soldiers; The East Side Motorcycle Club; the City of Toledo Anti Violence Commission; Toledoans United For Social Action and various city council members.