The Maryland state school board voted this week to distribute a set of discipline guidelines intended to be a model for school systems as they move away from zero tolerance policies of the past two decades.
The new detailed guidelines provide advice to school systems on how to handle disciplinary issues. They say, for instance, that no student should be suspended for disrespect. Instead, the guidelines suggest a student can be told to do community service, be removed temporarily from the classroom or be told to write a note of apology.
In many instances, the guidelines call for a more nuanced approach to discipline than has been used in some schools throughout the state. For instance, bringing a gun to school is cause for extended suspension and expulsion, but bringing a toy water gun would only be considered a minor infraction. Students who bring an implement to school that could potentially cause injury but is not intended to be used as a weapon would not be suspended from school either, although threatening another individual with the implement could result in an extended suspension.