Understanding School Discipline in Maryland: Why It’s Complicated and What Parents Need to Know
We aim to shed light on various aspects of Maryland’s education system. Your engagement and feedback mean the world to us, so please do share your thoughts and comments.
Why School Discipline is a Complex Issue:
When we talk about school discipline, we’re essentially discussing how schools manage student behavior. From general mischief to bullying, fights, weapons, and drugs, it’s all under the umbrella of school discipline. If you’re a parent or have a vested interest in K12 education, you’re in the right place. School discipline is anything but simple.
The Constitutional Foundations:
Let’s take a step back and consider the constitutional foundation that shapes school discipline policies. The United States Constitution, while essential for our country, doesn’t specifically mention education. Why? Because the framers believed that education should be managed locally. The 10th Amendment backs this up by stating that anything not given to the federal government is the responsibility of the states.
So, is there a constitutional right to education? Well, not explicitly. However, the 14th Amendment ensures that everyone is treated fairly under the law, without having life, liberty, or property taken away without due process. This indirectly guarantees a fair education. Maryland has its Department of Education, overseeing education within the state.
Local Control and State Authority:
Education policies are largely determined at the state and local levels. In Maryland, the ultimate authority in education is the Maryland State Board of Education. While local school boards write codes of conduct, they need to align with the state guidelines. This decentralized approach allows for tailored solutions that cater to local needs.
Change in Philosophies:
Around 2012-2013, there was a significant shift in the approach to school discipline in Maryland. The focus transitioned from punitive measures (strict consequences) to therapeutic and restorative methods. Why? Because studies suggested that suspensions and expulsions didn’t necessarily make schools safer or less disruptive. The emphasis now is on counseling and restorative justice.
Understanding Your School’s Policies:
When it comes to school discipline, every county in Maryland has its policies aligned with the Maryland State Board of Education’s guidelines. These policies are embedded in student handbooks, which detail the dos and don’ts, as well as the consequences for student behavior. So, if you’re unhappy with your school’s discipline policies, it’s essential to know that the local school boards and state-level authorities are responsible.
Taking Action at the State Level:
If you’re a concerned parent unhappy with school discipline policies, remember that the Maryland State Board of Education holds the reins. They set the tone for the state’s educational approach. So, instead of just voicing your concerns within your school, consider reaching out to your local representatives or engaging with the State Board to drive change.
Most school principals, administrators and even superintendents are often frustrated with student behaviors as well and find themselves helpless when attempting to remove disruptive students from their schools. They are bound by liberal policies that favor students.
Understanding school discipline requires knowing the constitutional foundations, the role of state and local authorities, and the evolution of disciplinary philosophies. If you’re passionate about advocating for changes in school discipline policies, directing your efforts at the state level, particularly towards the Maryland State Board of Education, is a strategic move. Your input can contribute to shaping a more effective and fair system for Maryland’s K12 students. Stay informed and engaged—your voice matters!
Dig Deeper With Our Longreads
Newsletter Sign up to get our best longform features, investigations, and thought-provoking essays, in your inbox every Sunday.
The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.