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Press Release: Maryland State Board Of Education Accepts Guidelines For Student Code Of Discipline

For Immediate Release                                          Contact: John L.White, 410-767-0439

Baltimore, MD (July 23, 2014)

The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to accept guidelines for the state’s student code of discipline that can serve as a model for local school systems to use when developing their own discipline codes.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) presented the new framework for school systems to use as they review and revise their local district codes of discipline, and develop and establish new discipline-related policies. These guidelines include behavioral expectations for all members of the community who have a direct impact on creating healthy learning environments and promoting student success. They also were designed to reduce disparities in discipline based on race and disability.

“The State Board is committed to establishing policies that lead to safe learning environments for all students, and keep more students in school and on track for graduation, while eliminating the disproportionate impact of school discipline on students of color and students with disabilities,” said State Board Vice President Dr. Mary Kay Finan, who presided over yesterday’s meeting. “It is imperative that we continue learning and make decisions that are in the best interests of students regardless of where they live, what they look like or what challenges they exhibit.”

The Maryland Guidelines for a State Code of Discipline align closely with the Maryland State Board of Education’s discipline reform efforts as laid out in their 2012 report, School Discipline and Academic Success: Related Parts of Maryland’s Education Reform. The guidelines were written in accordance with state law and the Code of Maryland Regulations. They complement and support the new state regulations, which the State Board adopted in January to keep students in school, maintain their progress toward graduation, and strengthen school safety overall. 

In response to the Board’s request for an inclusive, thorough, and participatory process, MSDE convened a workgroup in 2012 and appointed two co-chairs, MSDE’s Robert Murphy, M.Ed., and Kate Rabb, JD, of Open Society Institute-Baltimore. MSDE staff issued initial invitations to representatives from all 24 local school systems in Maryland, and numerous organizations and stakeholders including: ACLU-MD; Advocates for Children and Youth; Baltimore Teachers Union; Department of Juvenile Services; Johns Hopkins; MD Association of Boards of Education; MD Association of Pupil Personnel; MD Association of Secondary School Principals Association; MD Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health; MD Disability Law Center; MD State Education Association; MD Parent Teacher Association; MSDE; NAACP; and Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland. Members of the State Board also were invited. Through the course of six open meetings between November 2012 and July 2013, additional groups were invited and additional people participated.

As a model, the guidelines provide suggested roles and expectations of the broadly-defined school community, and a framework for choosing appropriate and fair consequences for students. In response to the State Board’s directives, the guidelines create a structure that emphasizes discretion for decision-makers and is designed to eliminate disparities in discipline, and make consequences meaningful and appropriate.

The draft guidelines, workgroup report and the report to the State Board of Education have been linked to yesterday’s State Board meeting agenda.

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