The State Board of Education recently approved new discipline regulations for Maryland’s K-12 schools. The regulations, which create more limited circumstances for use of some disciplinary techniques, have been criticized for making determinations that might have been left to local school boards or teachers. As described by the Maryland State Department of Education,
The regulations require local school systems to adopt policies that reduce long-term out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, and use such actions only when a student poses an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff, or when a student is engaged in chronic or extreme disruptive behavior.
The regulations provide some latitude to local school board implementation of the regulations, while providing some oversight to the State Board of Education. As reported in the Washington Post,
Local school boards in Maryland will have until the beginning of the next school year to revise their discipline policies. They may choose their own approaches, but the state plans to monitor the impact of discipline on minorities and special education students, and individual cases could end up with the board on appeal.
Local school boards and educators throughout the state submitted comments on the draft regulations, and are now expressing their reactions to the final regulations. For example, Calvert County School Board members expressed a mixture of support and criticism for the decision, as reported in the Southern Maryland Newspapers,
“[The vote is] a mixed bag for me,” Joe Chenelly, member of the Calvert County Board of Education, said. “I don’t think this is something the state needs to be telling us. … I think these are decisions we should make at the local level.” . . . [and] Dawn C. Balinkski, board member, agreed that the state board “exceeded their legal authority,” and said the new regulations that could even potentially compromise the safety of our students.
“We support the intent of the regulations, which is to reduce suspensions and to minimize the academic impact of suspensions,” Balinski said in an email. “However, we oppose legislation that limits the flexibility of local school systems in enforcing consistent and fair disciplinary standards for the safety of all students.”
For more information, For more information, see the story from The Washington Post, the story from the Southern Maryland Newspapers Online and these past posts on Conduit Street: