Fairfax County School Board Revises Student Behavior Guidelines

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Following a lengthy review of its discipline practices, the Fairfax County School Board has approved revisions to its Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) handbook for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. The revisions modify penalties for student misbehavior that many parents complained were as too harsh and kept children out of school unnecessarily.

“The board … recognized that changes are necessary in the SR&R because disproportionalities still exist in our discipline process,” said board president Karen Corbett Sanders.   “The changes reflect our continuing commitment to One Fairfax in which we are using an equity lens as our guide.  We are changing from a  punitive structure to one that work with students, families, and staff that emphasizes restorative justice and second chances while maintaining  safe schools.”

One Fairfax is a policy that commits the county and schools to intentionally consider equity regardless of race, color, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, income or residence when making policies or delivering programs and services.

Corbett Sanders said the changes, approved at the board’s July 11 meeting, are designed to reduce the amount of time that our students spend away from school while ensuring a safe learning environment for all.”

“Fair and equitable treatment”

Changes to the code include:

•    Parent notification of general searches or individual searches of belongings.
•    “Disorderly conduct” has been changed to “disruptive behavior.”
•    Added THC oil to the list of prohibited drugs.
•    Added vaping of any substance and vaping products to the list of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug violations.
•    Students may be allowed to participate in convocation and graduation ceremonies even if they fall within the timeline of the temporary removal from activities because of a disciplinary violation.
•    When a disciplinary incident involving a student with an intellectual or developmental disability may result in a suspension of any kind, school staff shall not request a statement from the student until a parent has been provided notice.
•    Added language to clarify that the decision to provide a student response whether verbal or written to any staff questions is voluntary.
•    No student aged 8 or younger shall be asked to write a statement.

“These changes reflect the district’s commitment to providing fair and equitable treatment to all students,” said Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “Working in collaboration with our families, we want our disciplinary practices to focus on prevention of problem behaviors while ensuring that every FCPS school promotes a responsive, caring and inclusive culture.”

All changes can be found in Regulation 2601.33P, available online.

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.