PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Public school districts returning to in-person instruction after the COVID-19 pandemic are seeing an uptick in unruly students.

On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board voted down a measure to impose stricter punishments for students.

READ MORE: Sala Udin Elected New President Of Pittsburgh Public Schools Board

Interim Superintendent Wayne Walters has faced many challenges since becoming acting chief in October — falling enrollment and disruption in class — but he said the district is in the process of turning things around.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The board meeting on student behavior descended into disorder itself. But when the dust settled, the board would not reinstate stricter discipline, leaving Walters to find other ways to restore order.

“Our board has spoken and their role is policy,” Walters said. “And now that we’re aware of where the board stands on policy, we work on those interventions and supports for our entire district.”

READ MORE: 20-Year-Old Man Shot, Killed In Rankin

And while those returning students have been more disruptive than in previous years, KDKA has learned there are far fewer of them.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, total enrollment in the district has fallen from 22,665 to the current 20,350 — a two-year decrease of more than 10 percent. Those figures include a growing pre-K enrollment, but this year’s K through 12 enrollment has fallen below 20,000 to 18,981.

“Certainly trust is a huge issue. We know that during the pandemic, families did use their feet,” Walters said.

Board members have given Walters high marks for solving the district’s transportation and technology problems and returning the students to class. But now he is faced with ensuring a safe environment while striving for higher academic standards.

“Elevating quality teaching and learning, making sure that our technology structures are up to par and really focusing on a plan on what we are going to do as a district to really move that agenda forward and make us more attractive,” Walters said.

MORE NEWS: Former Pitt Basketball Player Corey Manigault Brutally Assaulted In Europe

Walters said the roots of these disruptions run deep and the district alone can’t solve it. It will take parents and the community.