Arlington School Superintendent Charles E. Nunley has drawn up plans to tighten liberal "open campus" and attendance policies that have been criticized as contributing to drug abuse and other crimes involving students.
The new rules drafted at the request of the County School Board, which will discuss them Thursday night, would forbid some students to leave school grounds during the day and reduce by two the number of absences allowed without academic penalty.
The proposed rules were spawned by complaints from law enforcement officials, parents, civic groups and drug counselors that current policies are a significant factor contributing to drug abuse and crime involving students who are either too immature or unwilling to follow them.
In March, Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Henry E. Hudson asked the board for a crackdown, saying that 60 percent of all daytime burglaries are committed by juveniles. Yesterday Hudson called the new plans "a positive initial step."
Arlington's current school attendance policy gives students 10 absences from a class during a year without loss of course credit. Under Nunley's plans, the allowable absences would be cut to eight.
The current so-called open campus policy allows senior high school students with parental permission to leave the school grounds during lunch time. Nunley's plans involve phasing in new restrictions by forbidding ninth grade students to leave school grounds next year. In 1984, ninth and 10th graders would be restricted.
Students involved in special work-release programs would not be affected. High school seniors and juniors would be allowed to leave school with parental permission.
Some parent and student groups complained in March that tightening the policies would punish the majority of students, who do not abuse them, and overburden teachers with enforcing rules and supervising students at lunch time. Some critics reaffirmed their objections yesterday but said they were pleased that the proposed changes were not drastic.
"They do seem fairly moderate," said a faculty member who asked not to be identified.
Nancy Cude, president of the County Council of PTAs, said many parents question "whether open campus is one of the major reasons" for some students' drug use and involvement in crime.
Those directly involved seem to have mixed feelings about the proposal. In letters included with Nunley's recommendations, some teachers and students at Wakefield and Yorktown high schools opposed a closed-lunch policy. At Washington-Lee, which has been the target of numerous complaints from residents, students and faculty approved the proposal.