Gwinnett County

Gwinnett County schools considering changes to discipline policy amid increase in violence

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Gwinnett County School Board heard proposals about school safety during a Thursday afternoon work session after weeks of community meetings and outcry.

“We know the solution is complex and there’s no easy answers,” said Superintendent Dr. Calvin Watts to start the portion of the meeting devoted to school safety.

The presentation included information showing an increase in major violations across the board compared to last school year.

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Channel 2′s Matt Johnson learned there has been a 31% increase in students involved in fights compared to last year, the number of students found with razors or blades has doubled, and the number of students found with handguns has tripled.

Last month, Norcross High School student DeAndre Henderson was shot and killed near campus. Another student was arrested for allegedly opening fire on the Shiloh High School campus.

“School shootings, though still very rare, are on track to surpass their pre pandemic high,” said Watts.


Dr. Watts laid out what he said was context.

“The global pandemic has exasperated risk factors for violence in general like loneliness, isolation, and economic instability,” he said.

Eric Thigpen, Executive Director of Academic Support, said the board could consider a badge alert system and an AI weapons detections system at all schools, but the board had other concerns.

“The response has been underwhelming,” said Board Member Steven Knudson, referencing Dr. Watts specifically.

Most board member concerns were with the discipline policy change they approved this year that eased standards for tribunals in effort to reduce the number of minority students disciplined.

Some admitted they approved it without a extensive enough plan to train teachers and staff, leading to confusion during a rise in violence.

“I’ve heard of many teachers wanting to leave the public school system,” Board Member Dr. Mary Kay Murphy said.

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During the work session, it was revealed that a discipline task force will meet within the coming weeks to tweak discipline policy and gather input from the community, students, and staff.


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