A code of conduct proposed last night for Howard County schools defines misbehaviors and sets punishments to be applied uniformly throughout the system.
The code addresses such infractions as bullying, setting fires and carrying unauthorized beepers on campus.
The result of nearly a year's work by 18 school officials, students and community leaders, the code aims to make more consistent the rules and punishments for 43 specific misbehaviors that routinely occur in school.
"We imagine you're going to find real consistency" from school to school, said Karen Dunlop, president of Howard's teachers union and co-chair of the committee that drafted the code.
The proposed code was presented last night to the school board, and board members indicated their overwhelming support for it. The proposal is expected to be approved next month and put into effect in the fall.
"The good thing about this is it is consistent," said Jane B. Schuchardt, a school board member. "It is going to take a little bit of work on the part of teachers and administrators, but when students see this, it's going to have a good effect."
Also last night, board members indicated their support for a policy that would bar the automatic enrollment of younger siblings of students who have attended campuses other than their home schools. But the board said it wanted clarifications in the policy.
The new regulations on school transfer, if approved, also would mean that students transferred by administrators because of misbehavior or other problems would not get to choose their new schools, as is now allowed.
For more than an hour, Associate Superintendent Maurice Kalin fielded questions and comments on the policy, which is still being revised, from board members. The discussion focused on striking a balance between freedom of school choice for students and the needs of the system as a whole -- with an eye toward preventing abuse of the system.
Also last night:
Superintendent Michael E. Hickey scheduled a meeting at 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday at the Department of Education to deal with what he called a "budget crisis." The meeting comes in response to a proposed budget released Monday by County Executive Charles Ecker that fell more than $9 million short of funding requested by school officials.
An education official presented a report on recently passed legislation in the General Assembly, including a bill giving
Howard school board members a 10 percent raise. The board's chairman will earn $11,000 a year and members $9,900.
The board approved names for two new middle schools scheduled to open in fall 1999 -- Bonnie Branch and Lime Kiln.
Board members approved open enrollment for 14 elementary schools, seven middle schools and three high schools.
They also approved a special exception for 29 soon-to-be ninth-grade students in western Howard currently districted to attend River Hill High School. The students will be allowed to enroll at Glenelg High School this fall because redistricting plans in future years would force them to switch high schools before they would graduate.
The board approved removing temporary classrooms from six schools and adding them at six others to help handle enrollment fluctuations.
The board voted to continue unchanged the so-called focus-school status of 14 Howard campuses that receive additional teachers and other teaching resources because of their relatively low test scores.
In other action, Hickey approved the transfers of 13 principals and assistant principals, promotions for seven educators and hiring of two assistant principals -- one from Baltimore County and one from Prince George's County.
The changes take effect July 1.
Included in the list of promotions was Connie Lewis, acting principal at Atholton High School who will assume the post permanently. The move likely will please many students, staff and parents at the school, who have lobbied education officials in recent weeks to keep Lewis.
Also at the meeting, a school official reported that video camera boxes mounted on school buses often act as a deterrent to bad behavior from students -- even when, as is usually the case, the boxes don't have cameras inside.
Since installing the first so-called black boxes on school buses in 1993, cameras have been used 18 times, said Robert S. Lazarewicz, executive director for operations for county schools. Seven times, he said, the cameras have recorded inappropriate student behavior that was then viewed by the school principal.
Lazarewicz recommended continuing to use the cameras and the boxes as needed.
"It's unfortunate that we need mechanisms like this in place, but it does seem to help," said board member Linda L. Johnston.
Also last night, a Howard school official reported that a law passed in the legislative session that ended this month would more severely restrict the release of students' names, addresses and phone numbers.
In the past, student information was released to such organizations as alumni groups, military recruiters and social service agencies. Each year, parents could request that their child's information not be given out.
The legislation, which goes into effect July 1, would allow such information to be released only to parents, students, teachers or former students, military organizations and school system officials.
Law enforcement and child protection agencies would not have access to the information, a change that is expected to cause problems in reaching some students who may need help from social services, Patti Caplan, a school system spokeswoman, said.
"It makes for sort of a bureaucratic nightmare," Caplan said. "It's going to be very challenging."
A public hearing and vote on the details of how Howard school officials will implement the law will be held May 21.
Pub Date: 4/24/98