Superintendent Could Get More Authority To Discipline

June 16, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

The Harford Board of Education is considering a proposal that would give Superintendent Ray R. Keech more authority to extend suspensionsor expel students who break the law.

Under an unrelated proposal,the board is also considering requiring parents to submit requests to excuse students from school for family trips and vacations.

The two proposals were submitted to the Education Board at its meeting Monday. Board members are expected to vote on the proposals at their July 8 meeting.

The proposed disciplinary policy would affect students accused of assault and battery, malicious burning, and carrying dangerous weapons, controlled substances, tobacco products and portable pagers, which police say sometimes are used in illegal drug trafficking.

Under current policy, principals are permitted to suspend students suspected of the violations for five school days. The student is then referred to the superintendent for possible further disciplinary action.

The superintendent can suspend the student for at least another 20 school days, under current policy.

The minimumsuspension of 20 days would be removed under the proposed change. And the superintendent could set the additional suspension for any period of time or expel the student "after considering the nature and severity of the behavior and other factors relative to the school."

School administrators would continue to notify police of students suspected of committing a crime.

In addition, the proposed policy would require high school and middle school students to complete the school's alternative education program. The program calls for students toattend three evening and weekend classes a week during suspensions and expulsions.

A total of 225 county students were suspended or expelled by Keech between the beginning of the 1990-1991 school year and March 30, Seymour said.

Under the proposed attendance policy, family vacations and trips during the school year are "strongly discouraged" because of the loss of class time.

The policy would require parents to request an excuse for their child for a trip at least 10 school days before the first day of the absence. The principal may grant the request on the basis of the student's attendance and academic record, the proposal states.

The school system does not now have apolicy for family trips, said Albert Seymour, a school system spokesman. In most cases, parents send letters informing the schools of trips and students make up class work on their return or take the work with them.

"Some of the principals and teachers believe that (vacations) have had an effect on student attendance," Seymour said. "Some of the principals feel that (the number of students excused for trips) has been higher than in past years."

Statistics on the number ofstudents who leave school for trips were unavailable.

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