Proposed changes to school discipline regulation

By | October 21, 2013

The Maryland State Board of Education has drafted a Student Code of Conduct and is proposing new student discipline regulations that, if adopted, would apply to every public school system in Maryland.

Currently, student disciplinary policies and regulations fall under the sole authority of the Board of Education of Carroll County. The adoption of these new regulations would move that authority from the local school system to the State Board of Education.

The draft Student Code of Conduct and the proposed regulations would make our schools less safe and less orderly. Disciplinary policy should remain under the total authority of the local Board of Education, not the State Board of Education.

To see the CCPS report, go to http://www.carrollk12.org/Assets/file/CCPS%20News/School%20Discipline%20Regulations_Report.pdf.pdf

Please consider sending feedback to the State Board of Education. They are accepting feedback through November 4, 2013. Final action on these regulations will occur on December 10, 2013.

To send comments to the State Board of Education:

  • Email rmurphy@msde.state.md.us
  • Write to:
    Robert A. Murphy, M.Ed.,
    Specialist, School Completion, Discipline, and Alternative Programs,
    Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Student, Family and School Support
    200 West Baltimore Street
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201
  • Call 410-767-0305

This is the current law: http://www.dsd.state.md.us/comar/getfile.aspx?file=13a.08.01.11.htm

And this is the proposed revision: http://www.mabe.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-July-St-Bd-Discipline-Memo-Regs.pdf

A sample letter, provided by CCPS:

Dear Members of the State Board of Education,

I am writing to oppose the adoption of the proposed student disciplinary regulations. It is my strong feeling that local Boards of Education are elected to develop and enforce policies that affect students who attend local public schools. Please do not take this authority away for those local officials who we entrusted to keep our schools safe. I oppose the “one size fits all” approach to mandatory state controlled consequences for improper student conduct.

Please do not adopt these proposed regulations.

Signed

A letter, written by Carroll Values Education member Devon Rothschild:

October 12, 2013

Maryland State Board of Education
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

RE: Proposed changes to state discipline policy, COMAR 13A.08.01.11

Dear Members of the State Board of Education,

I am writing to oppose the proposed changes to the state discipline policy, COMAR 13A.08.01.11, as I believe these changes could ultimately lead to a less safe and less orderly school system here in the Carroll County Public Schools.

As a parent, I have serious concerns with what the State is proposing. Firstly, Carroll County has wonderful “alternative” schools that keep students from spending long term suspensions just sitting at home and not learning. Crossroads Middle School and Gateway High School provide a setting in which students that need to be removed from traditional schools have the opportunity to continue their learning. Additionally, we have an elected Board of Education who is intrinsically involved in our schools and who understands what works best for our students here in Carroll County. I am strongly opposed to the State removing the authority to control discipline policies from the Carroll County Board of Education.

However, my greatest concern is for my child and I believe, whole-heartedly, that the changes the State is proposing will lead to a less secure learning environment for my son. If the proposed changes are adopted, I am not sure that I would feel comfortable sending him into the school environment anymore. While I understand the need to keep students in school as much as possible, which Carroll County does well, discipline policies should protect the majority of students in the classroom and not focus on the individual rights of one. It is unacceptable to me that the greatest punishment allowed for a child who verbally threatens a staff member or who brings a weapon to school is community service, a mentoring program referral, or a 3-day in school suspension; or repeated and deliberate harassment of a peer would result in a written apology, mediation, a visit to the school counselor, and in extreme cases an in-school suspension of 4-days. These consequences are not great enough, but under the proposed changes Carroll County Public Schools would be forced to follow the State’s guidelines.

Although you have not listened to recommendations provided by Superintendents, Boards of Education, and principals, perhaps you will listen to parents. The proposed changes to the discipline policy for our schools are not acceptable; please do not adopt them.

Sincerely,

Devon Rothschild, Carroll County Public School parent

A letter, written by Carroll Values Education member Cindy Lord:

October 18, 2013

I am writing in opposition of proposed changes to the disciplinary action policy. I believe the implementation of this policy could lead to a less safe environment for my children, who attend Carroll County Public Schools.

While I appreciate the intent to have all school systems implement positive behavior models of discipline, I think local control must be maintained. My children’s elementary school has been a PBIS school for most of the time my children have attended. I support the model and believe it works.

But sometimes, for some children, it doesn’t. And for those children that just cannot operate within the traditional school environment, CCPS provides alternative programs, either at home or in alternative environments, such as our P.R.I.D.E. program, Crossroads and Gateway. These programs have worked well to continue their education. They have also allowed CCPS to have, I believe, the highest graduation rate in the state.

The statistics between suspensions and dropouts show a correlation, but the idea that not suspending students will lead to more graduating seems, to me, a dangerous experiment. It is a logical error to assume that suspensions cause students to drop out. Usually, those students have other red flags, such as failing classes and absences unrelated to suspension. CCPS already works very hard to keep all students learning and the proposed policies would hinder that severly.

The Board of Education of Carroll County knows that its role is to educate ALL children and that education does not happen when a child is suspended and sitting at home all day. They have policies to prevent that and programs to continue every child’s education in a manner that is best for them as well as for the other children. These policies must be allowed to continue.

Thank you.

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