MD Board Of Education Passes New Student Discipline Regulations - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

MD Board Of Education Passes New Student Discipline Regulations

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MARYLAND – After a four-year effort of discussing a more constructive approach to punishing students in schools, the state of Maryland officially has new regulations.

The Maryland State Board of Education made the announcement yesterday, which requires the regulations to be in place by the 2014 to 2015 school year. According to the board, the regulations require schools to adopt policies that reduce long-term out of school suspensions and expulsions to keep students in school, prevent drop out, and as a result, avoid problems for law enforcement.

Bill Reinhard, media relations for the Maryland State Department of Education, says the state of Maryland is currently seeing higher levels of graduation than ever before, and this is a push for it to continue.

"The key here is that we need all of our students to get an educational program," says Reinhard. "We want our students to have the opportunity to learn and complete that grade and move onto the next and graduate."

Last year, more than 42,000 students were suspended or expelled statewide. While Reinhard says the numbers are an improvement from years in the past, there is more that still needs to be done.

"The problem is when some students are suspended, that's what the student wants in the first place, or going home is the easy way out," says Reinhard. "When they leave school, they have difficulty catching up that year, then trouble the next year, and they may end up dropping out and we don't need that."

However, for some educators across the state, it's a lost battle.

"It's going to be more of a challenge for us," says Kelly Stephenson, President of the Wicomico County Education Association.

The Maryland State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, reportedly also voiced their concerns as well. Some of their worries include not being able to adequately teach the students that want to learn.

"It's really important that we maintain classroom control and classroom management" says Stephenson. "With the more disruptive students you have, it lessens the quality of education for other students that are there to learn."

Another major concern is the lack of funding to help the schools implement the regulations.

"This could be yet another mandate placed on the local school systems that may not get the actual support and funding to do it the way it's supposed to happen," says Stephenson.

Educators have also expressed concern about their safety and the safety of their students. However, the board of education has tried to clearly address the fact that out-of-school suspensions and expulsions can be used 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.

"They are not interested in decreasing school safety," says Reinhard. "What they want are the students to be in school and complete that grade and move onto the next and graduate."

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