The disciplinary code for Arlington public school students should include a punishment more severe than 10 days suspension but less final than expulsion, several members of the County School Board said last night.
The board discussed a newly revised version of the code, titled "Disciplinary Responsibilities," including the addition of a complaint procedure for those dissatisfied with any disciplinary action or lack of action.
Board member Dorothy H. Stambaugh questioned the revised draft prepared by school staff. That version provides for a 10-day suspension, but no more severe punishment short of permanent expulsion from all Arlington school programs.
"I think we should have some language that says that in very serious disciplinary cases, students could be suspended for as long as one academic year," she said.
The revised code also elaborates on disciplinary actions taken with handicapped students, saying administrators must take into account the "unique needs of the student."
School Board Chairman Gail H. Nuckols said some revisions were prompted by an incident at Wakefield High School last October in which a teacher was knocked to the ground and hit several times when he tried to stop an after-school fight.
At the time, Wakefield Principal Dennis Hill urged that four students involved in the fight be expelled. But Superintendent Charles E. Nunley, citing "very extenuating circumstances" that he would not discuss, did not recommend expulsion.
Nuckols said that incident highlighted a gap in the rules. For some people, she said, "the idea of expulsion is more satisfying as a punishment; suspension doesn't quite carry the same onus to it. But if you expel a child forever who is in the intermediate school, how much is the community going to support him after that?"
Board members asked school staff to review the rules in light of their questions and present a draft to the board at a later meeting.