YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Students are fighting and exhibiting other “disruptive behavior” more than was the case before the COVID-19 pandemic, Midstate school leaders told abc27 News, corroborating a national trend first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Among districts whose leaders responded to inquiries, the trend was as true in rural, suburban, and urban districts.
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School District of the City of York Superintendent Dr. Andrea Berry confirmed city schools have seen an uptick in disruptive behavior, as did York Suburban School District’s spokesman, Nick Staab.
Staab said that includes physical fights, “but more than that, it’s students acting out — maybe not following teachers’ directives as closely as they would’ve otherwise.”
As was the case for officials in other districts, including Boiling Springs in Cumberland County, Staab’s assessment was based on conversations with school principals within the district.
As was also the case elsewhere, Staab said administrators are trying to strike a balance between addressing disruptive behavior and understanding the underlying causes.
“I think the old days of being that strict disciplinarian are certainly gone,” he said. “Now it’s more listening to the student, finding out what’s the underlying cause, and helping them with resources we have available.”
After all, “how much change they’ve gone through over the last couple of years is primarily why we believe some of the behaviors are on the rise,” Staab said. “There’s no comparable event in my childhood or yours that could help us empathize fully with the students.”
Pennsylvania’s Department of Education tracks disruptive behavior but only updates figures annually, so data for the current school year isn’t available. A department spokeswoman said department leaders couldn’t say whether they’re aware, anecdotally, of a statewide increase in disruptive behavior among students.