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Should cheating result in suspension for Wake students? Under proposed rules, it would not.

Wake County students might be able to avoid being suspended from school if they commit what are considered to be less serious violations of cheating.

Current school board policy lumps cheating, plagiarism, lying and violating software copyrights as “integrity” violations that would result in students being suspended from school for up to five days. But a Wake County school board committee agreed Tuesday to recommend a revised Code of Student Conduct that would treat many of these violations as offenses that don’t result in suspensions.

The new policy would move integrity infractions and violations of a newly created Honor Code to a less serious category of offense where alternatives to suspensions are used. But administrators said the new policy, whose wording is still being revised, would include a section allowing for suspensions of more serious violations such as:

Lying about not knowing a weapon is on campus.

Paying another student to do your work and passing it off as your own.

Sharing a picture of an exam ahead of time with other students.

“The board recognizes that there could be very serious or egregious examples of either a breach of integrity or an honor code violation that would need to be addressed at a more serious level,” school board attorney Jonathan Blumberg said in an interview after the committee meeting.

Wake classifies violations into five levels, with Level 1 offenses not resulting in an out-of-school suspension unless the violations happen repeatedly. Examples of Level I offenses include not following orders of school employees, disrespect, using inappropriate language, violating the dress code and using tobacco products.

Alternatives to out-of-school suspensions include in-school suspension, detention, behavior contracts, peer mediation and loss of privileges

Level 2 offenses typically result in out-of-school suspensions of up to five days. Examples include causing a disturbance on a school bus, theft, indecent exposure and bullying.

Level 3 offenses often result in suspensions for more than 11 days and include things such as possession of drugs or alcohol, possession of a weapon other than a firearm, assault on a student or school personnel and making a bomb threat.

Level 4 offenses are those required by state law to be 365-day suspensions such as possession of a firearm or destructive device such as a bomb.

Level 5 offenses result in permanent expulsion. There aren’t any specific violations listed. This would be used if the district thinks a student poses a clear threat to the safety of other students and staff at a school.

Integrity violations are currently Level 2 offenses. But under revisions agreed to by the policy committee, they’d be reclassified as Level I offenses. Administrators said they wanted to reserve the right to treat serious violations as Level 2 offenses.

School board chairman Jim Martin said he thought it would have to be a serious case of academic fraud before a suspension would be warranted.

School board member Christine Kushner, chairwoman of the policy committee, said they’ll want to know more details before the full board approves the policy. That includes specifics of what would be in the new Honor Code.

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