School Board votes 4-3 to move forward with PBIS without the help of outside coaching
DECATUR—Just two years after hiring Dr. Dwayne Cotton and his company Cotton Student Services, DPS-61 will again attempt to go forward with the implementation of PBIS on its own.
The PBIS program (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) was put in place in Decatur back in the mid 2000s, but after struggling to find consistency between the schools within the district, the 2010 school board decided to hire Dr. Cotton and his company to serve as an external coach. Since Cotton joined DPS-61 the district has seen a decrease in overall referrals by 27%, which amounts to nearly 7,000 total referrals, but last night the school board decided to take their recent success and move forward without him.
Much like recent meetings, when Cotton’s contract was under discussion, it was a full house in the Keil Building, with several speakers expressing their desire to keep his company around, “Cotton is a proven winner and we have one more year with him on contract, if anything because of the results we have had we should be looking at adding extra years, not cutting the current ones out,” community member Tony Wilkins said. Former board member Lavelle Peete was also in attendance. Peete was on the school board that decided to bring Cotton into the district and voiced his support, “Dr. Cotton has come in and literally changed the culture of discipline and we have started in the right direction. As a former board member of DPS-61 this would be a slap in the face to see this program go away.”
Not everybody was so enthusiastic, however. Some board members questioned the amount of influence Cotton had on the districts recent success, I’ve talked to administrators and teachers and PBIS coaches in 6 schools and they strongly supported PBIS. A majority of them, however, thought they would be able to implement PBIS just as effectively, if not better than Cotton’s services could.”
After a heated back and forth between board members, Superintendent Gloria Davis, and insight from Dr. Rochelle Clark and Bobbie Williams, both DPS-61 employees the board put it to a vote and it was determined, 4-3 that Cotton’s services would not be retained. After the vote there was a loud grumbling from the audience as several members got up and left.
“It wasn’t a popular decision, clearly,” board president Brian Hodges said. “But I know the board did their homework on this and I know that I did a lot of research on my own and I fully believe that we have strong leadership throughout the district and we will be able to continue making PBIS a success.”
“PBIS was around before Cotton got here, and it will continue after he leaves,” board member Alida Graham said. “And I believe that with the success we have had in recent years, it will continue to move forward successfully.”
In other news
The school board voted 7-0 to move ahead with their pursuit of increasing their technology usage in the high schools to a 1 to 1 ratio. After a short presentation by Director of Technology and Information Jim Altig; the board accepted a lease contract with Apple Computers to receive 1,000 MacBook Air laptops to give to each Eisenhower student. The contract is for 4 years and will cost the district just over $260,000 annually. Altig says the purchase of the computers will safe the money ‘a sizeable amount of money’ in textbook costs, computer lab costs, printing costs, and electric bills. The students will receive their new computers as soon as they move into their renovated building. The same program will be put into place at MacArthur as soon as they move into their building next school year.