Changes Proposed In School Disciplinary Process

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack D. Dale has proposed a number of recommendations to change the school system’s disciplinary process.

The recommendations will be discussed by the Fairfax County School Board at a work session on Monday, April 4.

“We have been listening carefully to the conversations and suggestions being shared by parents and members of the community,” said Dale.  “These recommendations incorporate many of the suggestions and changes we have heard.  We look forward to continuing discussion around these revisions with the School Board in April and May.”

The recommendations come amid controversy over what some see as a “zero tolerance” policy. They follow the suicide earlier this year of W.T. Woodson student Nick Stuban who was involved in a disciplinary procedure.

In 2009, South Lakes High School student Josh Anderson took his own life just before he was to face a disciplinary hearing.

The recommendations

The recommendations proposed by Dale would:

  • Refine the guidelines on parental notification for potential suspensions and expulsions and help parents prepare for the hearing process.
  • Enhance communication related to the Student Responsibilities and Rights (SR&R) handbook with a goal of improving understanding by parents and students.
  • Audio record all hearings.
  • Shorten the timeline between disciplinary incidents and the disposition of the decision.
  • Provide instructional support during the suspension and provide an intervention education program, if appropriate to the offense.
  • Authorize school principals to act as the superintendent’s designee for the purpose of conducting a preliminary review in individual cases at their schools where a student is found to be in possession of his or her own prescription medication.
  • Develop a data collection-process analysis to include academic success, recidivism, and on-time graduation.
  • Create an exit survey for parents to complete at the end of disciplinary hearings.
  • Review and reinforce the training program for School Board members and staff members to achieve consistent implementation of the disciplinary process.
  • Continue the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program in all schools.

The School Board is to meet at 9 a.m. on April 4 at Gatehouse Administration Center.