Bibb County school officials say they’re looking into a series of published reports indicating significant underreporting of discipline problems, though they say they’re not entirely convinced the reports are true.
Both an investigation by the Telegraph of Macon and an independent report commissioned by the district from the consulting firm Safe Havens International quoted multiple unnamed teachers as saying they feel pressure from above to keep quiet about serious disciplinary infractions in the classroom.
In a rigidly timed conversation with reporters, Deputy Superintendent for Student Affairs Ed Judie said he would feel “very uncomfortable” if he knew that were taking place, though he didn’t acknowledge that it had.
Judie also questioned the anecdotal nature of the reports.
“I’ve read the articles and the complaints that we’ve had," Judie said. "When we look at data we don’t do a random selection of two people out of three thousand eight hundred.”
The Telegraph’s reporting was based not only on interviews with teachers but on data provided by the school district indicating a sharp decline in serious disciplinary actions, such as expulsion and suspension.
The Telegraph and Safe Havens reports also indicate some disciplinary complaints that do make it to administrators are being ignored.
Unnamed teachers said they often send problem students to the office only to have them immediately returned without consequence.
Judie said he will ask lower-level administrators to monitor discipline reports entered into their computer databases weekly to make sure incidents aren’t going unreported.
“I will also ask the associate superintendents when they go down and conduct their building meetings," Judie added, "to get a sense from the staff members, do they got the support that is needed?"
Judie, though, did not concede any underreporting or widespread failure to address problems. He said he is still looking into reports to the contrary.