WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools leaders unveiled a new code of character, conduct and support on Wednesday ahead of the new academic year. 

District leaders have removed language they believed was subjective like “disrespect” and “subordination” from the previous code. 

Superintendent Tricia McManus said the foundation of this code is based on inclusive relationships and fair expectations. 

“This is a huge culture shift for us and one that we think honestly is going to be critical for our students,” McManus said. 

The new code has shifted from a culture of compliance to one of commitment, prevention and intervention.

“We want every student to feel capable, connected and cared for, and that is what the code is all about,” she said. 

The goal of the code is to keep students safe and in the classroom. 

McManus said a specific group of about 5,000 students were out 30,000 school days last year because of out-of-school suspensions.  

“18,000 of those days…affected our Black students, and also another number that is significant to us is that Black students in our district are four times more likely to be suspended,” she said. 

McManus told FOX8 that Hispanic students and students with disabilities are two times more likely to be suspended. It’s a statistic district leaders want to decrease by preventing repeat behaviors.  

“We’re trying to normalize interventions as well as being able to close the loop with parents and making sure that our support personnel, our social workers, our counselors, any adults that have those types of skills are involved in the process of students learn from their behavior and not repeat it,” said Lionel Kato, chief officer for learning supports for WS/FCS. 

There are six levels of consequences and interventions listed in the new code. Level one includes more than a dozen strategies to get a student back on track. Level six is suspension or expulsion. 

McManus said success starts with a positive relationship and respect between students and teachers. 

“When a child is learning behavior, which we have to teach explicitly,” she said. “It doesn’t end after elementary school…we have to continue to teach and reinforce the expectations around behavior.” 

The new code ensures consistency for all grade levels and schools.