The Arlington School Board adopted a disciplinary policy last night that is intended to give school officials more flexibility in dealing with students who commit such serious offences as theft or physical assaults on other students or on teachers.

The new procedures were prompted by two incidents during the past school year in which teachers were attacked by students.

"We felt that the old policy was inadequate," said board Chairman Gail H. Nuckols. "Because of the serious incidents, we began looking more at the policy and saw that it wasn't helping us."

The old policy provided for 10-day suspensions for serious offenses. Under the new one, an offending student can be suspended for up to 30 days.

Expulsion is possible for the sale, possession or consumption of drugs, arson, or use of explosives or fireworks or possession of a dangerous weapon.

Suspensions will be handled by school administrators, but only the board can expel a student.

J. Boyd Webb, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the policy was updated to conform with Virginia law. But although that law provides for corporal punishment, the Arlington board's policy states that: "corporal punishment is not authorized by the School Board."

In other action, the board approved a new report card system to be used in a pilot program for first- and second-grade pupils at Abingdon, Patrick Henry and Taylor elementary schools. Instead of assigning letter grades every four weeks, notices of progress will be given every six weeks in categories of social and work habits, as well as academic performance, with progress rated from "excellent" to "needs improvement."