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Discipline Record-Keeping Goes Electronic at NJ High School

At Pennsville Memorial, the OnCourse Discipline Tracking System helps keep track of student infractions

Pennsville Memorial High School in New Jersey wanted to streamline its record-keeping system for student disciplinary matters. Administrators looked to fix a cumbersome process that relied on more than one database, none of which kept a running tally of the points a misbehaving student might accrue under Pennsville’s demerit system. (Collect 20 points, go straight to suspension.) That process had to be done on paper—a timeconsuming job for Vice Principal John Ogbin and his secretary.

Today, a year after employing the OnCourse Discipline System, Ogbin said Pennsville can electronically track teacher discipline reports, administrative actions, and parent/guardian notifications. The system also helped expedite the traditional paper-based processes, for which Ogbin and his secretary could not be happier.

“What OnCourse did was take a lot of work off my hands and my secretary’s hands as each infraction is entered into the computer.” Ogbin said. “It’s a great program. “It suits our needs perfectly.”

"That's the thing about
working with the company.
They've been terrific about
doing anything we ask."

Pennsville, a 690-student high school in southern New Jersey, had some experience with OnCourse, having used its web-based Lesson Planner since the 2003?04 school year. The New Jersey?based company, which serves more than 400 school districts nationwide, helped Pennsville High tailor its new discipline tracking system to fit the school’s particular needs.

“That’s the thing about working with the company,” Ogbin explained. “They’ve been terrific about doing anything we ask.”

Ogbin says OnCourse helped Pennsville create a record-keeping system that could account for such violations as an unauthorized leave from campus. When the school enacted a new cell phone policy, prohibiting their use in classrooms, the infraction was likewise inserted into the electronic reporting process.

The OnCourse system can automatically notify administrators, counselors, and teachers about disciplinary matters involving a particular student. When a student faces detention or suspension, the system generates a letter to be sent home to parents or guardians, with up-to-the-minute accounts of a student’s disciplinary points and past violations.

“The program automatically does that,” Ogbin said. Under the old system, he noted, “We would have to use two or three programs to do what we do with one now—and two or three people. Now, when my secretary is absent, I can go ahead and print out the letters. Before, the letters didn’t get printed out because she was the only one who used the program.”

Teacher discipline reports, or referrals, now go automatically to a single folder in Ogbin’s e-mail system. Another folder contains reports of disciplinary matters that remain unresolved. The system keeps track of disciplinary matters according to the type of infraction, a handy tool for reporting end-of-year statistics to district or state officials.

Ogbin said he recently dealt with a student who was kicked out of class for using profanity. When the student arrived in his office, Ogbin could read the teacher’s electronic report on the OnCourse Discipline System, where he checked the student’s disciplinary points and clicked a disposition box marked “profanity.”

This school year, for the first time, Ogbin can look up disciplinary records for students coming into the high school from the district’s middle school, which uses the same OnCourse system. In Pennsville’s case, Ogbin said, administrators decided not to allow teachers to review the disciplinary measures takenagainst a student for past violations. “We just decided it wasn’tfair for the student,” he noted.

Perhaps best of all, the OnCourse Discipline System is easy to learn. “It’s basically just clicking,” Ogbin said. “We have every teacher in the school on it.”

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