Crackdown on disruptive students urged Board candidates hear parents' pleas at forum

February 23, 1996|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,SUN STAFF

Parents of Patuxent Middle School students told four Howard County school board candidates last night that they want officials to crack down on students with disciplinary problems.

The 35 parents who attended a forum at the Jessup school heard the candidates' ideas on standardized tests, budgets, placing children with disabilities in regular classroom settings and a new technology program.

Then the parents pressed the candidates for solutions to the problems presented by disruptive students.

One woman said she worried that her three children were being deprived because some of their classmates don't behave. A man suggested that teachers make students follow stringent rules.

Another man who said his children will attend Patuxent next year called for more extreme action.

"My children are concerned about getting beat up. They're not concerned about the academic challenge of middle school," he said. "Why can't we reinstate corporal punishment?"

The four candidates were short on specific answers. Two of them, Arthur Neal Willoughby and Vincent Pugliese, suggested that teachers get tougher with disruptive children.

Mr. Pugliese said he would enlist physical education teachers and coaches. "I'm positive they can handle some of these kids," he said.

Mr. Willoughby said "tough love" was needed but added that school officials are reluctant to act because they fear lawsuits.

Candidate Jane Schuchardt said she favored in-school suspensions. A fourth candidate, Francine Wishnick, said disruptive students should be isolated.

Candidate Virginia Charles has been abroad and has attended few candidate forums.

At last night's forum, organized by the Patuxent Middle School PTA, the candidates expressed concerns over standardized tests, questioning the value of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests.

Three candidates opposed the new technology magnet program, which this fall will replace the traditional vocational education now offered by Howard County School of Technology.

They said the new program, with its more rigorous academic foundation, would exclude some of the children who could benefit from the current program.

Mr. Willoughby, an engineer, disagreed with his opponents. He said his only concern was that the high school program doesn't have a feeder system.

"It's here, folks," he said. "We've got to get kids excited about math and science."

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