BALTIMORE COUNTY - Public school students know there are rules and consequences and some things merit a suspension.
"Bullying, cheating, anything really," said Emily Snapp.
Especially if there’s a zero-tolerance policy in place.
"It's like a free day off from school for them. Some of the kids... they could care less if you suspend them," said Autumn Seabrease, the mother of two students from Glen Arm.
That’s why the Baltimore County School District is ditching its disciplinary doctrine that resulted in 20,000 suspensions last year alone.
Dale Rauenzahn is the executive director of student support services.
"I think it is the high profile cases---the lacrosse players that had knives to work on their lacrosse sticks. Those kind of cases bring forth you know "you bring a weapon to school, you're going to be suspended". Well that's the zero-tolerance side of it. The other side is the reasonability."
Bringing drugs or weapons to school still won’t be tolerated, but principals will now be able to use their discretion on other lesser infractions.
"We're asking them to change the minor offenses---not taking your hat off or listening to Iphones, those kind of infractions, we don't want the child to miss instructional time," said Rauenzahn.
The new policy may also ease the penalties for something that almost every student carries.
"In the past, the statement was simply 'you may not use cell phones or electronic communication devices unless they're part of the educational program."
While repeat offenders may still get a suspension for misusing their cell phones, alternative punishments may keep them in the classroom.
"I definitely want her to have a cell phone. I definitely want her to have a cell phone with her at all times,” said Donna Snapp, Emily’s mother, “I mean you know it's a crazy world."
This fall, the changes in the policy will be spelled out in student handbooks and both the parents and the students will have to sign off on them.
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