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Schools Ease Zero Tolerance Suspension Policies

The county—and state—are moving away from zero tolerance suspension.

The Baltimore County Public Schools system is adjusting its policies and practices—in accordance with state regulations—to consider alternatives for zero tolerance suspension.

"We recently revised our policy to give more discretion and flexibility to administrators regarding suspension," said , Board of Education President. "Policy said before if the student did it—they would be suspended."

On July 24, the Maryland State Board of Education voted in favor of revamping state disciplinary regulations to create a "less-punitive culture in public schools," according to The Washington Post.

Schmidt said the school system, which has historically faced high rates of suspension, will focus on student issues "not post-event but pre-event."

"We're really trying to come up with strategies to identify students who may be at risk," Schmidt said. For example, he specified that teachers will keep an eye out for students who may have difficult home situations.

Still, Schmidt acknowledged that it will be a challenge to implement these changes.

"It's a real balancing test keeping kids in school and having an orderly learning environment," Schmidt said.

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mommaof sy August 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Yikes! I am not looking forward to a new school year teaching at a new school this year with this in effect. It will be very interesting to see how this pans out. Everyone that has written in has a good point.
JD1 August 11, 2012 at 12:43 AM
The BS has already started - the new discipline code has been issued. In each case, Category 1,2 and 3 all state that the behavior "may" result and not "shall" result in suspension. This includes arson, sexual assault, fighting, assault on a staff member and theft. These behaviors always resulted in suspension in the past AS THEY SHOULD! On the surface, this means that principals use their "discretion" on how to proceed. What this really means is that he principal "shall not" suspend kids if he/she wants to keep the job. Just wait, by December DD will be waving the " look how our suspensions have dropped" flag and the uninformed public will be so impressed. What this really means is that disruptive and dangerous behaviors have remained the same or worse - the big change is that behaviors that used to result in suspension will result in after school detentions or other slaps on the wrist.
Michael August 11, 2012 at 01:30 AM
The whole "zero tolerance" policy was BS anyway, since administrators used their discretion to handle incidents anyway. My son is a student in BCPS and was physically bullied by a much larger student in his grade on multiple occasions. The principal only stepped in to stop the bullying when I threatened to involve the police the next time this child touched my son. The child was never suspended, never disciplined, just warned to stop the behavior.
Michael August 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
The first time, I asked the principal to resolve it, the second time, I threatened to involve the police. It is the schools responsibility to "police" what happens on their property. It should not be mine to call them out for failing this responsibility. I am a former police officer, and my choice to not involve them, and instead force the school to do it's job has more to do with understanding the case load that a police officer working a patrol area has to handle than anything else. A complete understanding of the juvenile justice system and it's failings also makes it difficult for me to involve the police in a minor assault that the school should be addressing.
Michael August 11, 2012 at 02:32 AM
And further, your contention that it is not the school's responsibility to protect my child, is incorrect. We entrust our children to the school "safe" environment every day to be educated. It is the school's responsibility to maintain that "safe" environment and remove anything or anyone that threatens it.

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