The new discipline code that becomes effective in the Montgomery County public schools this year is designed to standardize disciplinary actions in all county schools, while retaining some flexiblity for local principals.
The policy specifies minimum and maximum actions for eight common offenses. But it leaves a wide range of discretion in the middle.
For example, if a student is found using illegal drugs on school grounds, the policy dictates that there at least be a parent conference, police notification and a one-day suspension. At most, the student could be expelled.
Countywide disciplinary standards cover major infractions, and local schools are required to adopt local disciplinary plans for handling student grievances and appeals.
Here are the major infractions covered by the countywide standards, together with a definition of each of the infractions and the minimum and maximum disciplinary actions for secondary school students. For elementary school students, the minimum action would always be a conference between the parent and the school administrator.
Physical attack, defined as physically assaulting a staff member or student on school grounds or in conjunction with school activities. Minimum action: three days suspension with police referral. Maximum: expulsion.
Verbal abuse, defined as willfully intimidating, insulting, or in other manner abusing verbally a member of the school staff. Minimum: one-day suspension with parent conference. Maximum: five-day suspension.
Extortion, defined as attempting to secure money or property through threat of physical harm. Minimum: one-day suspension with parent conference. Maximum: five-day suspension or possible explusion.
Storing, possessing or carrying dangerous weapons, which includes the unauthorized possession of firearms, knives or anything else that could be used in a lethal way. Minimum: one-day suspension and a parent conference with police referral. Maximum: explusion.
Vandalism, or destruction of public property, including both malicious and accidental damage. Minimum: a police report, full payment, a parent conference and a one-day suspension. Maximum: five-day suspension. Alternatively, the principal may develop a work plan for the students.
Smoking, in violation of the school policy that sets up designated smoking areas and special procedures for violations. Minimum: notification of parents and a student conference. Maximum: three-day suspension.
Alcholic beverage use, defined as consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages on school premises. Minimum: parent conference, police notification and one-day suspension. Maximum: explusion.
Drug abuse, defined as the possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs on school grounds. Minimum: parent conference, police notification and a one-day suspension. Maximum: expulsion.