Frequently Asked Questions
As I've traveled, it became obvious that once RTP is a school's discipline
process, the administrators and staff are going to have questions, lots of
It seems many are answered in the three RTP books, Discipline for Home and
School, Fundamentals, and Books One and Two, and some are not. Also, many
times I run into ideas from discussions with those educators who are in the
trenches every day.
However, I'm not the only one with new ideas. If you have any, send them to: email@example.com
Those that seem helpful to others, I'll
add to the FAQ list.
FAQ's Table of Contents
1. All Students Learn To Use Plan Sheet.
2. Monitor sheet could be used in playground
3. What is looked for when schools are evaluated or certified?
4. How do you deal with students who are tardy?
5.Dealing with absentee students
6.How do you deal with graffiti?
7. Ritalin and the RTC
8. How do you deal with the student who attacks a teacher?
1. All Students Learn To Use Plan Sheet
Yesterday, I was doing a workshop for George and Solano Elem. School and it turned into a
big discussion with lots of ideas on specific areas, especially having to do with the
playground supervision and the RTC. At any rate, two ideas surfaced that I thought worth
passing on and adding to the FAQ section when it appears.
I think the plan sheet, especially the one that appears on page 54, in the new revised
edition of Discipline, Book One,(page 55 in the first edition) should be
taught to all the students in the school early in the year as well as to
those who enter the school during the year. In George's school, there is a
50% turnover in his K-6 school. His school is located in a very high crime
area in Phoenix.
The idea is to teach students to
pick a specific area of improvement (it could be for either disruptive
behavior or discipline of study, or plan toward accomplishing school work),
to set a measurable goal, to learn to think through specifically how they
are going to accomplish their plan while they deal with the possible
disturbances, and to set a visual chart, and report to someone.
In his school, at least 50% never go to RTC, where the national average is 66% of
students never go to RTC. No matter what the number, they miss using and learning from a
plan sheet. They really get a better idea of the process of making a plan and what it is
all about and the idea of teaching the process by having them learn and fill out the plan
sheet at the beginning of the school year should help a lot. Also, it prepares those who
do go to RTC so when they see the form and fill it out, they are familiar with the plan
making part. Also, this would help the teacher become familiar with the plan making
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2. Monitor sheet could be used in playground.
Also, in the playground, for the student who disrupts in the playground and goes
to RTC, part of the student's plan to return to the playground and spend time in the
restricted area to demonstrate his ability to follow the rules, would involve the use of a
The RTC teacher would work with the student both on his plan and the
monitor sheet. Everyday, he would go over his monitor sheet with the RTC teacher. He would
have to have the person on duty in the playground sign the monitor sheet and indicate how
well he did. This would put the responsibility on the student.
This would help those
schools with rotating playground supervisors or with 2 or more playgrounds keep track of
those students who are returning from RTC to the playground. George's school has four
separate playgrounds, plus rotating supervisors. In some schools the playground supervisor
uses a clip board. The RTC teacher provides the information.
However, with the first idea, the
student is responsible for making the supervisor aware of his plan to be
more closely supervised, which is the idea of the monitor sheet.
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3. What is looked for when schools are evaluated or
I generally head for the RTC and spend at least two to three hours in the room,
watching the teacher work with the student, observing how well the students follow the
rules, and getting a general feel for the room. Ultimately, I begin working with a number
of the students, and this tells me a lot about how well the faculty is using the process.
What I find is going to be a reflection on how well the RTP administrator
is supervising the process. This, without doubt, is the most important area and where
literally all the programs break down. I have talked with many RTC teachers, often with
tears in their eyes, because they are not getting the support and teamwork cooperation
critical to running a successful RTP. The administrator must not only have a very good
sense about what RTP is all about, but they must also have a basic understanding of PCT
For more information, I'd read Discipline For Home And School, Book Two, especially
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4. How do you deal with students who are tardy?
There are two types of tardy problems, one where the student has control and one where
control is in the hands of someone else. When students come to school late, obviously if
they were to go to class, when they entered the classroom, there would be a disruption.
Thus a tardy student, after reporting to the office, is given a referral to the RTC where
they wait until they can go to class without causing a disruption. If they are chronically
late to school, then the parents are asked to join the school in assisting their child in
getting to school on time.
If the parents refuse to cooperate, or if they refuse to change
their morning habits to accommodate their child, then it would certainly be unfair to hold
the student accountable for an irresponsible parent.
As one principal suggested, in cases
like this, you have to back away and live with it. Certainly you don't allow these
students to disrupt the class, but they would still report to the office, then to RTC,
until their class can be entered without a disruption. That's the best of a
Often, in these situations, the
student's teacher works things out to accommodate the student, but in a way
that doesn't disrupt the class. Entering the room quietly, and taking a
pre-assigned seat next to the door is one option.
Where the student has control over being on time to school, then the same procedure is
used. They report to the office, and, since they've chosen to be late, they are referred
to RTC. There the RTC teacher helps the student work on a plan to be on
time. Many years ago, I recall working with a high school junior who was
chronically late coming to school.
The plan involved reviewing when
she went to bed, what time she'd get up, where to place the alarm, what
clothes to have ready the night before, and her ride to school. The more
detailed the plan, the greater the possibility of getting to school on time.
One youngster, a high school freshman, liked late night shows. I suggested,
as a plan, he tape them and watch them the next afternoon.
For those who switch classes, such as in middle and high schools, and a student walks
into class late, then the teacher merely uses the process. When asking the last question,
instead of saying, "What happens the next time you disrupt the class?", the
wording should be changed slightly.
The teacher might say, "What happens if you come
to class late any day the rest of this week (or two weeks)?" Since students can only
be late to the same class once a day, and since they start off fresh every day on
classroom disruptions, then you have to extend the time increment sufficiently for them to
demonstrate responsibility. If two days later they come in late, then the teacher should
say, "I see you've chosen to go to RTC."
The student is then given a referral
form and they go to RTC to work on a plan to arrive on time. If a student continues to be
late, he is treated like all other chronically acting out students, an intervention team
is called. (See Discipline For Home And School, Book One, Page 70)
Obviously, there are students who
enter and leave various classes, all with their teacher's prior knowledge.
Some might have scheduled appointments both in and out of school and others
might be going to special classes. These disruptions would be anticipated by
the teacher. I'm speaking of those students who fail to show up on time to
Some of my own children are
managers, and all of them have problems with employees failing to show up
for their job on time. It is in the nature of most jobs that nearly all
people depend on others for some kind of knowledge or human interaction.
Thus there is a need to be on time for work. To show up late to class is the
same as showing up late for work, it shows a lack of respect for others who
depend in some way on your presence to satisfy the demands of their jobs.
Respect for agreed to standards and rules is critical wherever we find
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5. Dealing with absentee students.
Many school districts have very severe consequences for those who skip school or refuse
to go to school. Some want to punish in various ways the children who fail to attend
Some questions come to mind: Is this a school problem per se or is it a community
problem? Is the school responsible if the student fails to attend school, or is the
community responsible for enforcing their own rules? Does punishing a student by
suspension, detention and/or not allowing the student to attend class an effective way to
solve the problem or does it make things worse?
It seems to me that it is a community problem, since the community made the rules and
thus it is up to the community to enforce the rules. The school is primarily a teaching
institution. It is not an enforcement agency. Truant children are handled by truant
officers in most communities. Thus, it becomes a matter for the police and courts.
For the school, the only consequence I see would be the loss of credit for the various
classes or school work the child would miss. If it is a short term absence, then the
consequence would be either loss of credit for the course unless the student is willing to
make up the work and if there is time to accommodate the student. If the student is gone
for too great a time, then eventually there would be loss of credit for the grading
Many schools believe a child should be punished for not showing up to school. This, of
course, is totally against everything RTP and PCT stand for. Punishment teaches nothing,
and doesn't create the kind of environment in which a student feels respect and can
succeed. Schools can only teach those who want to learn. Punishment doesn't create that
desire. If the community insists the child be in school, which is a valid concern,
obviously, and the community legislates the rules, then it is up to the community to
create the enforcement agency to make sure the rule is not violated.
Often parents are held accountable for their children missing schools, and I'd agree
with this to a point, especially with young children. Here parents are training their
children in the social habits of the home, such as getting enough sleep at the right time,
eating properly, and getting ready for the bus or being transported to school.
But parents often need the support of the community when by themselves they find the
task overwhelming, especially with middle or high school students. This is especially true
of the single parent. What is needed is a community intervention team, similar to the one
I suggest for schools in Discipline, Book One, on page 70. This type of cooperative
community effort is critical for many parents. It should create a team, including not only
the parents, but those from both the school and community who would be appropriate to
helping the individual student. This would establish a positive way for helping parents,
and ultimately the community itself.
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6. How do you deal with graffiti?
George Venetis understands RTP as
well as anyone. He is the person who asked me to attempt my ideas in the two
schools in which he served as assistant principal. He helped me develop RTP.
Presently, he is principal at Solano Elementary School, Osborn School
District, Phoenix. Recently he had to handle a graffiti problem. His school
is a K-6, 850 student body, in one of the highest crime rate areas in
Phoenix. Graffiti was discovered in the boys bathroom. His teachers and
custodial staff frequently check the bathroom and they knew it had happened
after the fifth graders had returned to class and during the sixth grade
George assembled the sixty or so
sixth grade boys in a large group meeting and asked if they knew why he had
called the meeting. Several suggested because of the graffiti in the
restroom. He asked if it were allowed and they agreed that it wasn't. Then
he asked how they thought the problem could be solved. After some
discussion, they didn't come up with anything. George said the only solution
he had was for the sixth grade boys to use the nurses station bathroom, and
that it would be checked both prior and after each student used it. He asked
the students what they thought of that solution. They didn't like it. He
then said that if the person came forward who had done the graffiti within
24 hours, he would drop the need for a solution. No one came forward.
George reassembled the group the following day and asked them if they had a better
solution than going to the nurse's office. This concern among the students for having to
use the nurse's office promopted a lively discussion and finally they came up with what
they thought to be a better way to solve the problem. Anytime a student had to use the
restroom, he would get the permission of the teacher or, in the case of the playground,
the supervisor. He would then take a buddy with him. George agreed to their solution, and
in a week's time, the was no more graffiti. The problem was solved.
A week after the problem had been solved, one of his more controlling teachers wanted
to know what George was going to "do" to the students.He smiled, and said,
"nothing, they've solved the problem."
In a very tough, urban high school which has partially initiated RTP, graffiti had been
a serious problem. After six months of using the process, the graffiti problem had all but
disappeared. I guess what this says is that the more students find respect where they
learn, the more they tend to respect the buildings in which they learn
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7. Ritalin and the RTC
I am interested in
knowing what your thoughts are on using the RTC to send
children who take a form of behavioral modification medicine such as
Ritalin, because they forget to take their medication.
Children are sent to the responsible thinking classroom (RTC) because they
have twice disrupted in a classroom, which violates the rights of both the
teacher and the other students by not following the rules. These disruptions
violate the integrity of the classroom. Certainly you wouldn't want your
child in a classroom where another child is keeping your child from
learning. They, by their disruptive acts, keep other children from learning
and the teacher from teaching, and may endanger the lives of others. The
fact that they've forgotten to take their medicine is no excuse for
violating another's rights. The same would be true for a person who failed
to wear required driving glasses and would cause an accident. That person is
still responsible even if he forgot to wear his driving glasses.
Not taking required medication is not a disruption. (See comments by LeEdna
The following was written by LeEdna Custer-Knight in reference to the question
Christine asked. Le is the school psychologist at Clarendon Elementary School in Phoenix
where the program was first developed. She is one of the five people who have helped the
most in making RTP what it is today:
The issue is both legal and use of RTP. Under the provisions of IDEA , federal
legislation regarding education of students who require modifications, once a school is
provided a prescription and medication for attention deficit, the school district is
obligated to see that the child is given the medication as prescribed. Given that one of
the primary symptoms of attention deficit disorder is difficulty remembering, it makes no
sense to send a child to the responsible thinking classroom (RTC) for forgetting their
It is comparable to sending a child to the RTC for failing to produce insulin
when they are diabetic. I don't think a plan will decrease the child's need for insulin if
diabetic. I also don't think a plan will increase remembering, if the lack of memory is
the result of an organic problem.
The legal issues are significant. First, once provided
with the prescription the school district is obligated to see that the medication is given
to child at the time prescribed. Legally it is not the child who is obligated to seek the
medication. Further, if as a result of not receiving the medication, the child engages in
impulsive behavior which creates a clear and present danger, the school district is
liable for damages by the child to himself, others, and property. In my opinion, sending a
child to the RTC because he forgot his medication for attention deficit disorder is not
only illegal, it is unethical.
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8.How do you deal with the student who attacks a teacher?
The problem of working out a process to deal with the student who is involved in a
serious act of misconduct is something I've discussed with several principals.
Obviously, state regulations and school board policy in the United States must always
be respected. What happens to students who attack a teacher might already be determined in
terms of school, board, or state standards. However, as far as the school is concerned,
and RTP in particular, I think one should always look at what is the best process for
helping the student "make it," if that decision is theirs to make.
I would suggest that for any major problem, or what might be called a serious act of
misconduct, that an intervention team be an automatic first thing. This team would include
the usual people mentioned in Tim and Margaret Carey's Chapter 14, in Discipline For Home
And School, Book Two, revised and expanded edition. Perhaps because there might be legal
issues (both the person on the receiving end and the apparent danger others are exposed to
if and when the student is returned), I think it might be best to consider someone from
the district office, who might have access to consulting the district's legal counsel if
necessary. Students such as these are often involved either in the courts, their parents
are, or in some kind of community counseling service. Perhaps clergy from the family's
church, if appropriate, should be invited. In short, students such as these are more of a
community problem and thus community participation in the intervention team would be some-
thing to be considered. This would be an excellent time for the people in the community
who work with such children to get a good look at RTP, and the intervention team in
To send the students home for specific time does nothing for the parents or the
students. I think the first issues to be discussed by the team should be two: First,
consideration of the student's CV (again, see Chapter 14 in Book Two) and, second, is it
prudent to keep working at the intervention team level, or is there a safer and possibly
more productive environment for the student to receive help, such as a residential
treatment center, alternative school, etc.
It should be always kept in mind that these
kind of facilities have a much larger staff ratio to the number of students, thus the
possibility of more intense, personal treatment. However, if and when the student does
return to the school, I would strongly urge using the intervention team so that they could
input the students progress and allow the community resources who worked with the student
a chance to give possibly valuable input on the student in other settings.
If the intervention team decides to allow the student the choice of returning to the
school, then the safety of the staff and the other students is critical. Perhaps allowing
the student to attend half a day, with most of the initial time being spent in RTC and the
rest of the half-day (using earn-all) to be spent during the time or with the teacher with
whom the student is most likely to succeed. The time in RTC could be spent making up work,
perhaps finding a student willing to work with the "problem" student in areas
where help might be needed.
In Blaine County School District in Hailey, Idaho, after they found that the one
student who had disrupted four times on the school bus couldn't return for the entire year
and his single parent mother had to suffer partial loss of time at work to drive the
student to school, I suggested to the then assistant superin- tendent to approach the
board and allow those disruption decisions on the school buses to be made by the assistant
superintendent and and the director of transportation. That has happened.
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