Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a disturbing increase in violence in Gwinnett — a cutter being fired during a fight at Grayson High School, a student gunned down near Norcross High, making threats at multiple schools, including my own school, Peachtree Ridge High School.

As a political organizer and activist, I know that the answer “it’s complicated” angers many, but in this case, it is.

It’s human nature to want to blame someone in this series of events, and aiming the crosshairs at Superintendent Watts has crossed the minds of some understandably worried citizens. A vocal group of parents has recently drawn attention, calling for Dr. Watts to be removed as superintendent due to the increase in violence and behavioral issues.

These parents argue that his leadership and the Board of Education’s “Theory of Action for Change to Improve Student Behavior and Achievement” policy are to blame for the increase in violence.

ExploreAJC INTERVIEW: Gwinnett superintendent defends disciplinary approach

Everyone can agree that students are influenced by those close to them, including parents and family. Firing a superintendent who has little influence over how an individual student fosters community with friends at school makes little sense. Parents and guardians have the greatest impact on a student.

It all starts at home. GCPS has rightly focused on managing this increase in fights and disruptions on community and parent action. Urging parents to instill values ​​in their children that will make them less likely to commit violent and/or disruptive acts is the most effective way to curb these behaviors.

But the school district is also trying to help students develop self-reliance behaviors that will help them approach disputes and conflicts responsibly and thoughtfully, a skill that will serve them long after their public school careers.

School administrators will not be there to discipline unruly and violent students when they leave the public school system. Students must learn self-control and alternatives to fighting and violence.

It is important for students to understand why what they did was wrong and why they should not repeat it, which is the goal of Gwinnett’s approach. Students need to learn how their actions can affect their teachers, classmates, and the school community. If students aren’t learning this essential life lesson, law enforcement might be dealing with them.

The District’s use of behavior correction is not at the expense of proper discipline. The idea that children are simply sent back to class with a lollipop in hand after breaking the rules is wrong.

Teachers are encouraged to approach classroom behavior in a way that allows students to realize their mistake and learn from it. The approach to the neighborhood is leveled. If you read the Theory of Action policy, a level one response to disruptive behavior can include a teacher reaching out to a parent/guardian and even detention. The second level may involve administration, which can take appropriate action, including referrals, community service, and loss of extracurricular activities.

Calvin Watts is a friend, a community advocate, and someone who truly has a personal interest in seeing students succeed academically and personally. I ask the Gwinnett County School Board to retain Dr. Calvin Watts as superintendent.