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Friday, February 25, 2011

FCPS School Board to review discipline policlies

A photo from the Nick Stuban
memorial, from the Washington Post.
The Fairfax County school board agreed at its Feb. 23 meeting to review FCPS discipline policies. The board will schedule work sessions over the next three months. This action follows public outrage over the harsh punishment imposed on Woodson High School student Nick Stuban who was suspended for bringing a legal but controlled substance to school. His life spiraled downward after that incident, and he committed suicide Jan. 20.

Mason District School Board member Sandy Evans says she “strongly supports a review of our discipline policies and practices to see if they are fair and effective.” Evans looks forward to the school board’s upcoming work sessions and also looks forward to “working with the Board of Supervisors on ways to better serve our students suffering from depression, a longtime concern of mine.”

At the request of the Stuban family, the Rutherford Institute sent a letter to FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale asking him to revise the school system’s zero-tolerance discipline policies, citing concerns that they subject “students and their families to inhumane, impersonal, and overly harsh administrative hearings where the 14th Amendment requirements of due process are neglected.”

The Feb. 21 letter also says “the punitive tone of these proceedings appears to result in the meting out of draconian punishments with little consideration of their long-term impact or rehabilitative potential.”

In related news, legislation proposed by Rep. Kaye Kory that would have required parental notification when their child violates a school policy that could result in suspension was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 28-12. Kory represents Annandale in the General Assembly.

In her Feb. 23 column in the Falls Church News-Press, Kory said her bill “was an attempt to codify what good schools already do: through early warnings to head off behaviors that put students into the discipline process. I know, without doubt, that what the bill requires happens regularly in communities across the state. It happens in many FCPS schools, as well. But, in too many cases, school administrators do not feel they have the time, the resources or the responsibility to reach out to parents, proactively. They do what is required by law, no more.”

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