Wake Ed

Wake County may change rules on student suspensions

Local activists ask the Wake County school system on Jan. 24, 2017 to do more to reduce school suspensions. Activits also say Wake should have more school counselors and fewer police officers in schools.
Local activists ask the Wake County school system on Jan. 24, 2017 to do more to reduce school suspensions. Activits also say Wake should have more school counselors and fewer police officers in schools. khui@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school board could approve policy changes Tuesday designed to further reduce the number and length of out-of-school suspensions.

The school board is scheduled to give final approval to a series of changes in the Code of Student Conduct that include revising how suspensions are issued for the lowest level of offenses. The changes comes as Wake, which has reduced the number of suspensions by 19 percent since 2011, has encouraged schools to look for more alternatives to out-of-school suspensions.

One change drops the words “generally” in the phrase that Level I violations “should generally result in in-school interventions rather than out-of-school suspensions.” Examples of Level I violations include non-compliance and disrespect to school employees, inappropriate dress and inappropriate language.

The new wording also clarifies that out-of-school suspensions of up to two days can be given for Level I offenses if during a school year there have been at least two interventions and there’s “persistent pattern” of violations.

Currently, board policy says that suspensions can be given if there have been at least three Level I infractions in the same semester. But schools have interpreted it differently with some saying the same infraction and others saying any three Level I offenses.

Some other changes include:

▪ Telling principals that they should consider that suspensions have a disproportionate impact on students on a block schedule;

▪ Updating the wording on prohibited electronic devices to drop references to antiquated devices such as beepers and CD players;

▪ Beginning the policy with a section about the role students, parents and community partners play in promoting positive school climates.

Also during the regular meeting, the school board is scheduled to fix a mistake made in March to drop interscholastic sports eligibility for students at the new North Wake College and Career Academy.

When the change was made in February, staff told school board members that students at the new school knew that they wouldn’t get sports as an option. But material provided to applicants showed that they’d be able to try out for interscholastic sports at Wakefield High School.

The board will revise its February vote to say that only students at Crossroads Flex High School in Cary won’t have the option to play on other high school sports teams.

Also on Tuesday:

▪ The board is supposed to give final approval to a policy clarifying the authority of school resource officers;

▪ The board is scheduled to approve contracts with Raleigh and Cary to provide school resource officers for the 2017-18 school year. Activists had asked in January for Wake to get rid of school resource officers starting with 50-percent reduction over the next year

▪ At the work session, staff will give an update on the state budget and a new method that will be used for calculating school capacity.

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