- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Changes to state regulations on student discipline are on hold.
Charles County Board of Education Attorney Eric Schwartz told school board members last week that the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review put a hold on changes to student discipline regulations proposed by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Ian Ullman, chief of staff for Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, the Senate Chair for AELR, confirmed that the student disciplinary regulations were on hold due to a number of concerns from stakeholders.
Changes to discipline regulations came about more than two years ago during a review and examination of school discipline and the use of long-term suspension and expulsion as a practice, according to a news release from MSDE in July.
The AELR reviews state agency regulations.
Ullman said the process being on hold does not mean the committee is for or against the proposed regulations.
MSDE would like to have each school system adopt regulations that reflect rehabilitative discipline such as in-school suspension, keeping students in school in order to be college- and career-ready, prohibiting policies that allow automatic discipline without discretion and explain that long-term suspensions and expulsions are last-resort options.
In a letter to MSDE from the Charles County Board of Education dated Nov. 28 regarding the state board’s proposed changes to general regulations concerning student discipline, the school board wrote that undefined and ambiguous language in the proposed regulations could affect proper implementation.
“For example, parents of disciplined students would always be able to question whether a long-term suspension or expulsion was truly a ‘last resort option’,” adding that “last resort option” is not defined in the regulation.
In order to keep students in school, the state board proposes a regulation that limits the number of long-term suspensions for nonviolent offenses.
Additional proposed regulations include providing students suspended from school with “minimal educational services,” meaning students who are suspended or expelled from school and are not a part of an alternative education program are to receive daily assignments from each class, graded by teachers weekly.
Charles County school board members expressed concern over the regulation because it does not account for block scheduling or classes that do not meet on a regular basis. The regulation, the board wrote, also does not exclude “teachers who may not have issued daily assignments to other students.”
This regulation, the school board wrote, was time consuming and would cut into time spent grading and planning other students’ work.
There also will be a liaison between the school and the student based on the proposed regulations.
Changes to the discipline-hearing process include the number of days the school system has to complete the process, ensuring students are back in class in a timely manner.
The school board voiced concerns that while the state board in the past has recognized the hearing process takes time and should not be rushed to meet an artificial deadline, the state is proposing the hearing process be completed in full in 30 days regardless of complexity or any delays.
Schwartz told school board members last week that it was uncertain what would come of the AELR review or when any decision would be made.