Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Dale has asked every middle and high school principal to convene a community meeting to discuss the 10 pending disciplinary recommendations he made to the School Board last month.
Dale made the announcement to the 25 PTA representatives at the regularly scheduled Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council meeting on Tuesday.
"We want to get as much parent and community feedback as possible," Dale said.
Barbara Hunter, assistant superintendent for community affairs, outlined the proposed meetings' objectives and timeline. The meeting format will be consistent across the county to gather feedback and suggestions on the discipline proposals, she said. Participation is voluntary and up to the discretion of each principal.
Dale initially briefed principals April 12 so some schools — such as Herndon, South Lakes and Chantilly High Schools — have already held their dialogue.
Principal Mark Merrell will hold Madison High School's meeting at 7:30 p.m. May 9 at the PTSA meeting in the school's Media Center. A date has not been confirmed for Marshall High School's meeting.
Each principal will be receiving written guidelines and handouts so "Dialogues on Discipline" sessions can be organized for this week or the weeks of May 2 or May 9. The goal is to present community findings at the next School Board disciplinary work session May 16, Dale said.
Dale acknowledged the short turnaround time for holding the meetings and said the School Board time line dictated the schedule.
Hunter said they wanted to get the major discipline changes in place as soon as possible. The Students Responsibilities and Rights handbook has to be printed over the summer, which is another reason for the tight time schedule.
Hunter said principals will alert parents to attend by sending a Keep-in Touch message or announcing it through a newsletter notice.
"We are respectful that we are asking them to do something in a short time frame," Hunter said.
School discipline issues came under scrutiny this winter after the Jan. 20 suicide of
At a , the School Board agreed to explore the disciplinary issues and held a March 14 work session to brainstorm possible changes to the disciplinary process. On Dale presented 10 recommendations at a press conference, which included parent notification at the earliest opportunity after any incident that might result in suspension or expulsion; a shorter timeline between the discipline incident and decision on disciplinary action; and permission for principals to conduct a preliminary review of individuals found to be in possession of his or her own prescription medication.
On April 4, the School Board discussed the recommendations attended by more than 60 parents and activists. After a three-hour discussion, the board agreed Dale should further develop the recommendations. Holding the open dialogues is a next step in the process.