Panel urges stiff penalties for armed pupils Fights to be ground for expulsion

August 05, 1993|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff Writer

An ad hoc committee on student discipline has recommended tough new punishments for students who possess or use weapons in school, or who physically assault one another or their teachers.

Students caught with weapons or involved in fights could be expelled for nearly two semesters and would have to meet certain conditions to return to school under the proposal.

The report is a follow-up to a study done last year by the County Council of PTAs, which said the top disciplinary concern of parents, teachers and students was that students who misbehave have not always been held accountable for their actions or uniformly punished for misdeeds.

To correct that, the ad hoc committee, composed of county school staff and convened by the school board, has recommended expelling middle and high school students who carry or use weapons in school, or who physically assault one another or staff members.

Under the proposed policy, a teen-ager caught carrying weapon to school or involved in a fight after Nov. 1 could be expelled through the second semester of the school year as well. Students in violation of the new policies after April would be expelled until the fall semester of the next school year.

To be readmitted to school, middle school students would have to complete at least one semester at the county's Learning Center for students with behavioral problems. Senior high students would have to complete at least one semester of evening or summer high school before returning to day classes.

Infractions by elementary students would be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The committee said the school system must communicate "clear, well-defined expectations and consequences for student misbehavior to parents and students. This must include new and unique ways to 'get the message out.' . . . Simply telling everyone and sending a note home won't do."

In addition to the standard discipline policies, an anti-violence program would be created as part of the disciplinary action in cases of fighting, insubordination, class disruption, refusal to cooperate with school rules, use of foul and abusive language, or disrespect to school staff.

The program also calls for establishing a conflict-resolution program in all schools to show students acceptable ways to resolve disputes.

Parents would be actively involved in the new discipline process through a systemwide program to teach parenting skills.

"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 PTA subcommittee that spent a year studying the issue.

Among concerns identified by the PTA 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.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.