Fairfax school board members to vote on proposed discipline measures

The Fairfax County school board on Thursday will vote on more than a dozen measures proposed by members that may significantly change the district’s discipline policies.

Eight school board members have written 21 amendments for Thursday’s vote on revisions to the Student Rights and Responsibilities booklet.

The amendments largely reflect the efforts of a year-long review of the school system’s discipline procedures and the work of a 40-member community committee.

Many of the proposed amendments concern when parents should be called if their child may be suspected of a serious offense. Other proposals may help address the disproportional amount of discipline cases involving students with disabilities.

Here’s a rundown describing what some of the board members will be presenting at the last meeting of the year before summer break:

• Sandy Evans (Mason) has a series of amendments that represent nearly identical changes to the discipline process she proposed a year ago. Evans is mainly seeking that principals contact parents before questioning a student suspected of an infraction that could result in a 10-day suspension and a possible expulsion. She is also proposing that parents be notified before a student is asked to write or a sign a statement and that the statement be completed with parental consent.

• Kathy Smith (Sully) has proposed an amendment which states that principals shall make a reasonable effort to notify a student suspected of a serious infraction before requesting that the student make a written statement.

• Ilryong Moon (At Large) and Megan McLaughlin (Braddock) are both proposing amendments that will allow suspended students to return to school during the appeals process. McLaughlin’s proposal will allow the suspended student to return to their base school.

• Ted Velkoff (At Large) is proposing that a statement be included in the discipline policy document that emphasizes a principal’s authority to protect students and the school and to ascertain facts as necessary to learn more about any incident on campus.

• Patty Reed (Providence) is proposing an amendment that will permit students with disabilities suspected of a disciplinary offense to receive aid in accordance with their specialized learning programs in order to complete a written statement.

• Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) has written eight amendments for Thursday’s meeting, the most of all the board members. Most of her proposals concern the disproportional amount of discipline cases involving students with disabilities. About 40 percent of all discipline cases are committed by students with disabilities, who make up about 14 percent of the total student population. Among her proposals includes one measure that would not allow administrators to request a student with an intellectual or developmental disability to write a statement after a disciplinary infraction.

She also wrote an amendment concerning parental notification and another proposal that states that no Fairfax students under age 10 be asked to write a statement.

• Janie Strauss (Dranesville) wrote an amendment that specifically bans students from bringing machetes or other similarly long knives onto school property and that doing so would likely result in a 10-day suspension and a recommendation for expulsion

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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