A program the Iberville Parish School Board approved Monday night will create an intervention program for students involved in fights on campus.
Board members in a virtual meeting gave the green light to the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), which would require student counseling and on-campus community service rather than going before a judge on criminal charges.
School Board personnel collaborated with Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi, District Attorney Ricky Ward and area judges on the plan, which they hope will curb the number of fights on school campuses last year.
A different approach was needed, particularly after one school had 140 fights during the 2019-20 school year, Stassi said.
“We have to do something different,” he said. “it gives them an escape route before they go into court and brings the parents in also, and puts them on notice that we’re all in this together and we want all people to get an education, and if they’re not in school for an education, and want to disrupt, we need to have some kind of alternative.”
“We took the data on the number of fights in the district and concluded that we needed more than just a punitive program,” said Dr. Louis Voiron, IPSB chief administrative officer.
The program focuses on preventative and conflict management components for students in hopes of minimizing fights he said.
The school system hopes the program can put students on the right track before they have to go through the court system, according to Brandie Blanchard, supervisor of human resources and policy.
Under the policy, if a student age 10 or older is involved in a fight would have the option to participate in the program or going through the district court system. It applies to fights on campuses, athletic events or other school-sponsored functions.
“We were all in agreement that we had to do something preventative,” Blanchard said. “We’re all very good at being reactionary, but we wanted to find a way to stop it from the front end.”
The program would require the child and parent to attend a two-hour Saturday class, led by social workers and guidance counselors in the district. The class would address problem solving and anger management.
It would also involve 10 hours of community service, performed on campuses. It would likely involve work with the custodial workers after school hours, in which they would pick up trash or clean classrooms.
If the student completes all components of the program, the court summons would be dismissed, and charges dropped.