Inconsistencies in discipline are top school concern

June 03, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

The top disciplinary concern of Anne Arundel County parents, teachers and students is that students who misbehave are not always held accountable for their actions and are not uniformly punished for misdeeds.

That was the conclusion of a report presented yesterday to the county Board of Education by a subcommittee of the county Council of PTAs, which has been looking into discipline problems since August.

"It is the opinion of the committee that violent and criminal behavior in school is a serious problem and must be addressed immediately," said Carolyn Roeding, president of the PTA council and chairwoman of the subcommittee.

Among concerns identified by the subcommittee were:

* Discipline policies that vary from school to school.

* A lack of communication between the school and the home.

* Chronically disruptive or violent students.

* No immediate consequences for students who misbehave.

* Lack of family involvement.

To counter those problems, the subcommittee has suggested a uniform discipline code to cover even minor offenses.

The committee also recommended expanding the county's Learning Center, a separate school for middle school students with discipline problems, to include elementary and high school children.

That assessment probably didn't come as a surprise to school board members or system administrators, who have been faced in recent weeks with a stabbing at Annapolis Middle School, a shooting at Broadneck High School and an Odenton elementary student who unleashed a tear gas canister on a school bus.

The most controversial solution proposed by the subcommittee was that students who are suspended not be sent home, as they are now. Instead, it recommended in-house suspensions, where students would be sent to a separate room to be monitored while doing schoolwork.

The subcommittee also suggested sending disruptive students to a separate room for the entire class period, instead of sending students sent to the principal's office back to their classrooms within an hour.

The subcommittee even had an answer for those concerned about how to staff such rooms.

"A lot of your concerns might be addressed by having parents serve the suspension with their student," Mrs. Roeding told the board and Superintendent C. Berry Carter II. "If you inconvenience the parent, you might get more cooperation in trying to get students to behave better."

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