Superior Middle School has experienced a significant spike in the number of behavior referrals this school year, averaging about 500 a month.

The most common behaviors earning students referrals at the school include disruptive behavior, disrespect, insubordination and low work completion, according to an email from Principal Rick Flaherty.

He said one of the reasons for the rise in referral numbers is the fact that the school is no longer using the Honor Level System, which allowed teachers and staff to write infractions rather than referrals for some behaviors. Lunch detention was a common consequence for infractions.

"Many behavior concerns that would have been addressed through the HLS last year are being documented as behavior referrals this year," Flaherty said.

Minor behaviors, including disrespect, defiance and disruption, are currently teacher- and team-managed with support through teaching or re-teaching, according to the SMS student handbook. Major behaviors may result in an office discipline referral with possible consequences such as lunch detention, in-school suspension and out-of-school suspension.

Flaherty said the school's Positive Behavior Interventions Support Team is working on a set of classroom and building expectations for the fall.

"These behavior expectations will not solve all the behavior challenges we are seeing, but as we work on consistency in every classroom, students will have a better understanding of what is expected of them and a better ability to demonstrate good behavior," Flaherty said.

Superior High School also struggled with high referral numbers at the beginning of the school year. A total of 728 behavior referrals had been written up at SHS by Oct. 29, prompting a one-week shuttering of the school's Lunch and Learn program.

The number of referrals has dropped since reaching a high of 587 in October. There were 366 in November, 260 in December, 416 in January, 247 in February, 202 in March, 228 in April and 209 in May as of the 21st, according to information provided by SHS Principal Greg Posewitz.

"I feel that is due to an overall acclimation to the new school in conjunction with increased communication between staff and students about expectations," Posewitz said.

Flaherty stressed that 70 percent of the students at the middle school have received either one or zero behavior referrals this year.

"Anytime there is a behavior issue, the hope is that we learn from the situation and avoid it in the future," Flaherty said. "Some students require one interaction to understand a different way of dealing with a situation while other students require multiple interactions and interventions. Even then, the change in behavior may not be recognized for some time."