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Fairfax County School Board Considering Proposals On Disciplinary Reform

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A decision will have to be made by the Fairfax County School Board on proposals by June.
Ashley Dejean
A decision will have to be made by the Fairfax County School Board on proposals by June.

For the past two years, the Fairfax county school community has grappled with reforming a disciplinary system some call too harsh. Two very different proposals for doing that are now before the school board.

The issue came to light when 15-year-old Nick Stuban committed suicide after being suspended and forced to transfer schools for buying a drug called JWH-018. While it induces effects similar to marijuana, the substance was, in fact, legal.

Steve Stuban, Nick's father, has been pushing for reform since his son's death. He's the leader of a committee made up of parents, students, administrators, teachers and principals that's proposing more than 50 disciplinary reforms to the school board, including the notification of parents before questioning students and the creation of a second-chance program for those caught with drugs.

He says the input from different stakeholders gives the committee's recommendations credibility.

"If you can get consensus support with that type of representation, it should relieve the school board of any concern that we're playing favorites to any one interest group," Stuban says.

But a second proposal by Fairfax County Public School staff excludes many of the committee's recommendations, including parental notification. It's a move that concerns some school board members.

Those supporting the staff's proposal say it's an effort to balance disciplinary reform with school safety.

"There are three things that are important to note that we want to accomplish: A parent guide that's more positive and proactive, the tiered consequences of response that have intervention at the forefront and options other than suspension, and lessening the number of infractions that are automatically expulsion," says Dr. Kim Dockery, Assistant Superintendent.
 
While given two very different proposals, the school board has until June to make a final decision about new disciplinary reforms.

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