School board debates policies on discipline

November 22, 1995|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County school board wrestled last night with policies meant to regulate student behavior and ensure that disciplinary action is applied consistently.

But after an hour of debate, the board took no specific action. Rather, it endorsed the direction the schools are taking in response to a lengthy behavior report made public in June.

The behavior study, compiled by an independent committee headed by former Baltimore County Police Chief Cornelius Behan, found that county schools were not violent and were safe considering the size of the system.

But the committee also said that disciplinary policies were often applied inconsistently. It offered more than 100 recommendations on how the school system could improve its disciplinary policies.

Board members discussed last night the school system's response to the Behan report, which set a timetable for the implementation of its recommendations.

Interim Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione told the board that it did not have to approve any or all of the recommendations.

"What we need is to have a nod from you that indicates we're moving in the right direction," he said.

Even those board members who had been most opposed to certain recommendations agreed that the schools were moving in the correct direction. Board member Sanford V. Teplitsky asked the school administrators to report to the board periodically on the implementation of the changes.

Members specifically questioned the need for a telephone hot line for the reporting of violent and criminal acts in the schools. They took issue with another recommendation that would establish an "internal investigations unit" to look into complaints.

"We are overreacting with this hot line and investigations unit," said board member Dunbar Brooks. Among other recommendations in the Behan report are changes that would make the student handbook more useful, and mandatory training for all school employees in how to manage behavior, discipline policies and human relations skills. Administrators noted that many of the recommendations are already part of school policy.

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