Schools try to prepare for or avoid violent acts Proposal would create guidelines for discipline

September 10, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll school officials are close to completing regulations designed to help principals and other school administrators handle serious threats of violence from students.

The proposed guidelines, presented in draft form at last night's school board meeting, address topics such as appropriate disciplinary measures, notification of law enforcement authorities and counseling.

They were developed partly in response to fatal shootings at schools across the country this year.

"We're concerned about the threat of violence in our community, our schools and our nation and we will take a serious threat of violence as a serious matter," said Edwin Davis, director of pupil services for county schools.

"We're seeing a different climate and we'd rather do what we can to prevent some of this in Carroll County," said Davis.

Principals and other administrators are reviewing the regulations as drafted, and Davis said he hopes to present a proposal to the school board next month for approval.

The plan will then be presented to parents and students, before going into effect this school year, he said.

Superintendent William H. Hyde said the regulations are intended to promote a "safe and orderly environment for kids and staff."

"We're going to do everything we can to work with students that display inappropriate behavior," Hyde said. "But we're also going to say it's not acceptable if violent threats are part of that behavior."

Davis said that a committee began working in April to develop a uniform set of regulations to address serious threats of violence by students. Committee members included administrators, school psychologists, counselors and supervisors.

"We have not had standard procedures in place when we've had serious violent threats," Davis said. "Our purpose is to see if there is some uniform way we can address this."

Under current policy, each principal may determine discipline in response to a serious violent threat by a student. If adopted by the school board, the proposed regulations would limit that authority.

Instead, school-based administrators would have to adhere to a strict set of procedures.

For example, according to the draft regulations, a student over age 7 who makes a serious violent threat for the first time could be suspended for up to three days. A parent conference would be required for readmission.

The regulations define a serious violent threat as a "declaration of intent" to injure, damage or destroy "persons or property with the perceived ability/intention to carry through on the threat."

A student who commits a third serious violent threat could face extended suspension or expulsion, according to the draft regulations.

"No one wants to have a catastrophe come your way and not be prepared to deal with it," Hyde said.

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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