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August 11, 2009

Debate on permanent expulsion begins

If last night’s work session on permanent expulsions is a preview of future discussions on the subject, then the road ahead is going to be a long one, fraught with debate.

Fortunately, as board Chair Neil E. Duke pointed out last night, it’s just the beginning of the process.  The board is expected to examine the issue for some time, with opportunities for the public to weigh in, before voting one way or another.

As has already been discussed here, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and board members fall on either.  A couple (Maxine Wood and student member Jerome Hill) are still settling on their position.

Dr. Alonso and Jonathan Brice, the executive director for student support, reiterated last night their belief that a clear line must be drawn when it comes to acceptable school behavior.  The proposed policy on permanent expulsions, they contend, aims to do just that, highlighting certain offenses that warrant being shown the door.  Acts such as arson or detonating explosives put the entire school community in danger; at the same time, these cases represent a very small number of the incidents that occur in schools.

As I noted in the story, several board members disagree with that view.  They argue that the school system has a responsibility to educate even the most difficult children.  Member Jerrelle Francois advocated seeking alternative programs and other services that could curb such bad behavior, saying that there are usually underlying causes for it.  Similarly, member George Van Hook said, even if a line must be drawn, it shouldn’t push students out of schools.  Rather, the arsonist, gang member, etc. needs to be in school, so they can be educated otherwise.  The question, he added, is where they are to be educated — and what resources are available to make that happen.

Anirban Basu was the lone member to unequivocally express the opposite view, describing his colleagues’ statements as “soaring rhetoric on behalf of the few against the many.”  Basu said he has a bias for kids who behave, want to learn and don’t pose a threat to their peers.  And various counties’ expulsion policies* indicate he’s not alone in that opinion, he said.  It’s not a question of denying a student’s rights, but of denying that student the right to remain a threat to others.

So…looks like we’re back to square one.  What do you think?  Is this about the rights of the individual versus the majority?  The need to establish a clear standard for student conduct?  What should this permanent expulsion policy look like — or should it exist at all?


 *Other districts' policies (outlined by Brice):

Baltimore County: expelled students reviewed for reinstatement quarterly (K-8) or at end of semester (high school)

Harford: student excluded for at least remainder of school year, no alternative education services provided.  May be required to repeat school year.

Montgomery: student expelled with no guarantee of right to return

Carroll: alternatives for student’s education explored with parent, and conditions for return to be determined

Prince George’s: high school students may apply for alternative school

Posted by Arin Gencer at 3:44 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Baltimore City, School Safety (Or Lack Thereof)
        

Comments

If I was listening correctly at tonights Board meeting, a lawyer from legal aide stated that permanent explusions are illegal....

Post @ BCPSS Debate Permanent Expulsions!

The Baltimore City School System operations executive officials make the point that not many of the student permanent expulsions recommendation cases forwarded to MSDE have been appealed. But the evidence shown from family's involved received correspondence from the school system, the education beat Sun Paper could not understand it why? We know the system needs to protect itself legally, but the school system letters were so ambiguously written in such appeal process jargon that it makes it hard to understand what was happening in the option to appeal process. There's also very limited inflexible time window triggers for filing an intention to contest the local Baltimore City school district final permanent expulsion decision appeal process which begins: 10 days after the initial Baltimore City local district suspension decision ruling, five days after a district school system hearing officer rules on a permanent expulsion. And then the next sets of hurdles come for a new set of Maryland State Dept of ED COMAR applicant appeal process criteria is newly revealed to the appealing applicant. We need to be reminded, think of how hard the school system tried to get dropouts back into school, with phone calls and door knocking, and we wonder why the same can't be done to help families figure out something -- anything -- to prevent these troubled children from ending up being dumped out of schools onto the streets. Now that you the education stakeholders, citizens, general public, and city property tax payers now know the major concerns what are you/we going to do about it? Inside Ed readers return a reply to this blog comment to advise of what should be our input position at the alleged "phantom public forum debate" reported by the Sun to be held in the unannounced near future by the school system board governance.

"Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood."

Doughboy - Boyz in Da Hood 1991

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