Parham proposes crackdown on students who misbehave

January 31, 1995|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County Superintendent Carol S. Parham wants to make it tougher on students who misbehave in the classroom or in their community.

Tomorrow, she will submit drafts of three proposed policies to the school board, calling for the possible suspension or expulsion of students who fight, bring to school weapons or items that look like weapons, or are charged with a crime by police.

The language of her proposals is no-nonsense.

"The board will not tolerate as saultive or malicious acts by students against students, employees or agents of the Anne Arundel County school system," says the proposed policy on student fighting.

The proposal expands the list of banned items to include any loaded or unloaded blank pistol, signal pistol, starter pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun, and any martial arts devices such as Chinese stars or nunchakus. The proposal also would ban chains, pipes and studded bracelets.

"There are no policies that specifically address these three areas," said Darren Burns, the superintendent's new staff attorney.

"The point of the new policies is to try to have punishments that fit the offense. Existing policies on student conduct are more general. There was a time in which they were more than sufficient. But by adopting more specific policies, we're adapting to the changes in misconduct we're seeing."

The strongly worded policies are part of a stringent attitude that has been gaining momentum since mid-1994, when Dr. Parham put into effect the recommendations of a study on discipline, the third in four years.

"I can't speak to the past," Dr. Parham said in an earlier interview. "But I am very dedicated to making sure we actually act upon reports. I'm not interested in anything that sits on a shelf."

Since fall 1990, the number of assaults, verbal threats and cases of possession or use of weapons by students in schools has grown steadily.

Verbal threats rose systemwide, from 15 in the 1990-1991 school year to 33 in 1992-1993, according to school figures. In the same period, physical assaults increased to 230 from 69, and weapons offenses increased to 118 from 40.

The issue was studied twice, starting in 1992, but the school system never acted on the recommendations of those committees. Last year, the Task Force on Student Discipline was formed, and after receiving its report in June, the eight-member school board ordered that action be taken.

The school board meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. at school system headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

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