A uniform code of conduct
Much of the debate on suspensions in Baltimore this year stemmed from the fact that different schools -- and different people within the same school -- doled out different consequences for the same offenses. Cutting class could lead to a phone call home at School A and a suspension at School B. Then Dr. Alonso said he didn't want schools suspending students for non-violent offenses, raising several questions: What is grounds for suspension? What other responses are appropriate and when?
Now we have some answers. The school system has released a proposed code of conduct outlining four categories of offenses, which offenses fall into each category and what punishments are appropriate at each level. Appropriate responses to a Level 1 offense (examples include an unexcused absense and minor bullying) include parent notification, a seat change or an in-class time out. Level 2 (say, cheating or habitual truancy) could mean in-school suspension. Short-term suspension out of school doesn't come into play until Level 3 (attack on student with bodily injury, drug possession), while Level 4 (attack on student with serious bodily injury, bomb threat) could involve long-term suspension or expulsion. There's also a list of offenses where it's mandatory for school police to be contacted.
Despite the code's specificity, many offenses could fall into multiple categories. Classroom disruption could be a 1, 2 or 3, but at its most extreme, Level 3, the proposal says that out-of-school suspension can be only for one day.
The 19-page proposal is posed on the system's Web site. There's also an e-mail address for the public to provide feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. The code will need to be approved by the school board.