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Fairfax school board approves changes to discipline policies

Saturday - 6/8/2013, 12:22pm  ET

WASHINGTON - If a student gets in trouble at school, when should parents be informed?

That's been a central question in the ongoing process of examining disciplinary policies in Fairfax County Public Schools, especially after the 2011 suicide of high school student Nick Stuban, who had been suspended.

The county school board voted this week to revise its disciplinary policies. Among the changes approved by members include requiring school administrators to make "reasonable efforts" to notify a student's parents "as soon as practicable" before a student signs a statement about an offense for which he or she could face a long-term suspension, according to a release on the revisions.

A five-day seminar will be used as an alternative to suspension for some students involved in bullying or fighting. And Herndon Patch reports principals can allow students going through a hearing process to attend class while they wait for a decision.

See other changes approved by the board here.

The changes will take effect during the next school year, and the news release on the revisions emphasizes the school system's commitment "to collaborate with parents to prevent and address behavior concerns."

Still, some Fairfax County parents say they want to be made aware immediately if their students get into trouble at school. The board did not approve a change that would have informed parents before their students were questioned.

"I think there is a lot of intimidation and fear and anxiety at that moment," says one mom. "Not that I would coach them on what to say, but I would want to know what is going on at the school."

Board member Megan McLaughlin expressed concern that parents are not informed right away.

"We should look at parents as partners and therefore involve them as soon as possible," she says.

WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @mollenbeckWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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