School board seeking input on conduct code '3 strikes and out' policy favored, submitted for community reaction

March 22, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County's school board members like a proposed "three strikes, and you're out" discipline policy, but they want to run it by parents and community groups before they adopt it.

The proposed code of conduct, which would allow principals to suspend students who seriously misbehave three times in a marking period, will be sent to Parent-Teacher Association, Citizen Advisory Committee and community group leaders, who will be given nearly a month to respond. The board could vote on the issue as early as the middle of April.

Each semester has two marking periods.

Board members, who saw a draft of the code at their meeting Wednesday night, said they liked the idea but had some reservations.

They said they wondered how consistently the code would be applied when some parts are open to interpretation and resources vary among schools.

Some schools, for example, have rooms for in-school suspensions, but others do not.

"You need parameters," said board member Michael McNelly, a retired county police officer. "I don't have any problem with 'three strikes, and you're out.' But you need some intervention."

In addition to the "three strikes" provision, the committee that drafted the proposed code is recommending two others.

One would require parental notification when a student is counseled about behavior by an administrator.

The other would ban clothing that depicts drug use or violence, or contains sexually suggestive messages or profanity.

School board members and parents voiced concern over how much discretion a principal would have in deciding what constituted serious misconduct, what kind of clothing would land a student in the principal's office and how the provisions could be circumvented. Even members of the committee that drafted the proposal are not in agreement.

Board members want the code of conduct to be ready for the coming school year.

The board also extended the school year to make up for time lost because of snow and ice.

The last day of school originally was scheduled for June 11. Elementary and middle school students will go one more day. But high school students, who would be short 12 hours under state regulations requiring 1,170 hours of instruction, will attend through June 14.

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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