Parents should be notified before their children are questioned for serious offenses

Tomorrow the Fairfax County school board will hold a work session to discuss discipline policy reforms proposed by Superintendent Jack D. Dale. Currently Fairfax County does not require that parents be notified before students are questioned for violating school policies. Dr. Dale proposes a a change in the Student Rights and Responsibilities rules to add the requirement that “the principal will make a reasonable effort to notify parents or guardians at the earliest opportunity regarding student disciplinary actions. ”

This is too vague. In the 2011 session of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Kaye Kory (D-38)  proposed legislation (HB 1548)  that would have required the school principal, or designee, to notify the parents of a student who violates a school board policy or the compulsory school attendance requirements when such violation is likely to result in the student’s suspension or the filing of a court petition.  Although this bill failed to pass, Fairfax County should voluntarily implement its provisions.

Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform suggests more detailed changes in the rules. This group says “Parents/guardians must be notified immediately when a child is accused of conduct that could result in a suspension or expulsion, or is removed from the classroom or school for disciplinary reasons, or when an action will affect the child’s permanent academic record. Children who are questioned must be told they have a right to remain silent and to contact their parent/guardian.”

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