School board will vote on discipline measures Suspension plan, classes in music to be discussed

June 04, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Advocates of two emotionally charged issues, strict discipline and the elimination of music classes, are expected to pack tomorrow's Anne Arundel County school board meeting.

The board is to vote on whether to initiate a "three strikes, you're out" suspension policy and a dress code policy, which are part of a student code of conduct.

The suspension proposal would allow a principal to suspend students referred to the office three times in one marking period for disrupting class. The dress code would ban clothing that depicts profanity and violence, promotes the use of illegal substances, is demeaning or is sexually suggestive.

"It's something that is a good idea. It's consistent with our get-tough policy," said board member Michael A. Pace.

He said he wants to make sure, however, that there is a safety valve for suspensions -- but not one that allows so much discretion that it leads to uneven enforcement.

Principals want leeway in judgment. Parents of problem students told the board in March that they don't want their children suspended; other parents say disruptive students are robbing their children of an education. And teachers say that an across-the-board policy is needed.

One school board member has reservations about the three-strikes proposal, although it has been amended to say that suspension should be a last resort.

"If my child talks back to me, I am not going to put her out of my house, I am going to teach her better, and that is what schools should do," said Carlesa R. Finney, board vice president.

Advocates of music classes threatened to pack the meeting to protest the recommended elimination of the middle school general music class and limits on other electives.

Disappointing eighth-grade test scores spurred the creation of a middle school task force, which recommended the changes and is to present its ideas tomorrow. Implementing all of the recommendations could cost up to $2.7 million.

The task force will hold a workshop for the board and perhaps forums for the public later, said James Foran, the instructional director who heads the task force.

In another action, the board will discuss the five "alert" schools, those nearly failing state standards.

The alert schools are Brock Bridge, Maryland City and Meade Heights elementaries, all in the Meade area, Hillsmere Elementary School in Annapolis and Brooklyn Park Middle School. They are budgeted to share $311,500 for extra resources next year.

The meeting will begin at 10: 30 a.m. in the Board of Education in Annapolis.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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