Summer is under way, but recent issues at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School continue to weigh heavily on members of the school community.

Nearly 100 people gathered in the Performing Arts Center Tuesday night to hear about disciplinary policies at the high school. Parents, community members, students and teachers wearing purple MVRHS shirts gathered to voice concerns, make suggestions and share support for the school and the administration. The meeting ran for more than two hours.

The forum was scheduled after a popular teacher retired amid criticism of the school administration. Shortly after, another teacher painted over some murals in the history department, causing another wave of concern. School culture and discipline became topics for discussion.

On Tuesday, high school principal Sara Dingledy opened the forum with a short presentation, including some statistics.

In the past five years, the number of students who have had in-school or out-of-school suspensions has declined, she said. Last year 81 students were suspended compared to 55 this year. For the same period there were a total of 228 infractions compared to 103. Five years ago, 93 students were suspended and the year saw 264 infractions.

“We’re hoping to have fewer infractions in general, when people talk about reducing the suspension rates, my question is always what about reducing the infraction rates,” Ms. Dingledy said. This year she said 360 detentions were handed out to 151 students, 22.5 per cent of the school population. Detentions are given mostly for repetitive tardiness and cutting class, Ms. Dingledy said.

“Our absence rate is going way up, we need to look and see how we can both create a culture that makes kids want to come to school, because that’s a big thing,” the principal said, adding: “And also simple things we put in place like robo-calls that we instituted about three-quarters of the way through to make sure parents are informed if their child is not in school,” she said. A similar call policy is planned for students who cut class, she said.

The forum saw discussion about the role of the school resource officer and touched on topics like communication and respect.

The school resource officer is a police officer who is on school campus five days week. The position was created in 2014 and filled by Sgt. Mike Marchand from the Oak Bluffs police department. Originally created to facilitate good relations between the students and the police, some people expressed concern that the officer is now used to take punitive action against students.

Ewell Hopkins, an Oak Bluffs planing board member and parent, asked if the resource officer role has changed.

“I’m very concerned about law enforcement in the role of raising my children within school, where I understand the key issue should be creating an environment of learning,” he said.

Gwyneth Wallace, a parent, said increased communication would help parents understand changes in disciplinary actions.

“When we only get one side of the story . . . it’s hard not to wonder what’s going on in this building,” she said. “If the community knows 22 per cent of kids are late, tardy or cutting school, it makes a lot more sense why discipline is changing here, but the community doesn’t have access to that information.”

Ms. Dingledy said school leaders are looking into better communication methods and invited people to share ideas with the school advisory council.

“The hard part is figuring out where and what to start with . . . do you make information easy to find, or do you send it out and blow up people’s inboxes,” she said.

Emily Hewson, a rising senior, requested more resources for the guidance department.

“Please, please invest more in the guidance department, we need more of them, we need more opportunities from them, we need more reach out from them. I am a student who has been on both sides of coin, I’ve been really helped and I’ve been really ignored,” she said.

While concerns were aired, parents also took time to point to positive outcomes of the year under the new administration. Cindy Flanders said the revolving door of leadership in the administration at the high school in the past four years left her children with no clear understanding of what was expected of them.

“This year I’m so grateful for the leadership of Sara and the superintendent’s office, through their work. I know my children are clear with what is expected of them,” she said. “I encourage the administration to find a way to engage the students in this conversation . . . if we are holding our students accountable for their behaviors, I think we also must be prepared to hold educators and administrators accountable for theirs as well.”

Jackie Callahan, a member of the school advisory council who sat on the principal search committee, also praised the work of Ms. Dingledy this year.

“We were not looking for someone to come and fix the discipline . . . we needed someone to come in and be a leader for our school, that’s why we chose Sara,” she said. “The discipline code has been in effect for several years, as the school advisory council we look at it each year and try and tweak it a little bit, part of the concern is this year, it’s being enforced.”