Representatives of Montgomery County's student government association came to a meeting of the county board of education this week to take issue with some of the main aspects of a proposed overall policy for student discipline - chiefly with the proposal to link student attendance and course credit.
"Skipping class is a symptom rather than a cause," Dan Zedek of Springbrook High School told the board.
"Maneuvering students into attending class by creating the possibility of credit loss does not deal with the problem of apparent disinterest. It is a cosmetic solution," said Zedek, who was reading from a prepared statement by five members of the Montgomery County region of the state's student government association.
During the course of the meeting, the students also objected strongly to the lack of any procedures whereby punishments meted out to students could be stayed pending student appeal.
"The lack of such stays denies the student any recourse through the appeals system until a punishment has been served," Zedek told the board, again reading from a prepared statement.
During an hour's give-and-take on the question of the new discipline policy - which is scheduled for a vote early next month, after at least one more public discussion - the five board members present at the meeting indicated they were leaning toward approving the proposal which would deny a student credit for a course if he or she missed 10 per cent of the classes.
"This is not a philosophical position I feel I want to take," said board member Verna Fletcher in the midst of the discussion, "but I'm leaning more and more toward it."
Supt. Charles M. Bernardo then noted that the proposal stemmed in part from the schools' "dual role" as educator and custodian for the students. "Withholding credit is a last resort," Bernardo added.
"The students will be afforded the opportunity to erase the withholding should the student take the opportunity to make up the work in some fashion."
However, student Andrew Kerne demurred, saying that skipping by student is a symptom of problems with the classroom. "Until solutions (to this) are provided, you are faulting the students for an area where the school system is not fulfilling their needs . . .
"We're not saying skipping is an appropriate action at all," Kerne added. "We're saying that we don't see how, by withholding credit, you can make it any better."