School Board Approves Changes to Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook
The Fairfax County School Board approved revisions to the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) handbook for the upcoming 2019-20 school year at the Board’s business meeting on July 11. The Board’s action followed external reviews of FCPS student behavior, discipline, disproportionality, and outcomes, and an internal review of best practices by the FCPS Office of Research and Strategic Improvement and the Chief Equity Office.
“The transformative changes to the SR&R for the 2019-2020 school year are designed to reduce the amount of time that our students spend away from school while ensuring a safe learning environment for all,” said School Board Chair Karen Corbett Sanders. “We very much appreciate the efforts of staff and our consultants in drafting the revised regulation. We recognized the importance of taking a fresh look at the SR&R to be more responsive to the changing needs of our students. We will hold students accountable for their behavior in a supportive school climate that considers their social, emotional, and behavioral needs.”
Six key revisions have been incorporated into the SR&R:
o Addition of an FCPS vision for discipline.
o Guidance for administrators on consistency and tiered responses to behaviors.
o Changes to first time drug possession and use.
o Parent notification.
o A change in practice for students with disabilities.
o Clarifying language around reporting bullying and Title IX violations.
“The Board, in collaboration with the superintendent’s office, recognized that changes are necessary in the SR&R because disproportionalities still exist in our discipline process,” added Corbett Sanders. “The changes reflect our continuing commitment to One Fairfax in which we are using an equity lens as our guide. We are changing from a punitive structure to one that work with students, families, and staff that emphasizes restorative justice and second chances while maintaining safe schools. We are also committed to providing our school-based administrators with the resources and supports necessary to produce positive outcomes for our students.”
Additional changes include:
• Parent notification of general searches or individual searches of belongings.
• The language describing the codes has been changed from “disorderly conduct” to “disruptive behavior.”
• Added THC oil to the list of prohibited drugs.
• Added vaping of any substance and vaping products to the list of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug violations.
• Students may be allowed to participate in convocation and graduation ceremonies even if they fall within the timeline of the temporary removal from activities because of a disciplinary violation.
• When a disciplinary incident involving a student with an intellectual or developmental disability may result in a suspension of any kind, school staff shall not request a statement from the student until a parent has been provided notice.
• Added language to clarify that the decision to provide a student response whether verbal or written to any staff questions is voluntary.
• No student aged 8 or younger shall be asked to write a statement.
“These changes reflect the district’s commitment to providing fair and equitable treatment to all students,” said Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand. “Working in collaboration with our families, we want our disciplinary practices to focus on prevention of problem behaviors while ensuring that every FCPS school promotes a responsive, caring, and inclusive culture.”