Superintendent creates Discipline Review Committee

Superintendent Kimberly Hill has established a Discipline Review Committee to look at the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Code of Student Conduct and the school system’s disciplinary practices.

The 41-member, volunteer committee is composed of Board of Education members, a bus contractor and bus driver, NAACP representatives, parents, students, staff members, Education Association of Charles County (EACC) representatives, teachers, vice principals and principals. There are two committee chairs, Kathy Kiessling, director of student services, and Patricia Vaira, retired director of student services.

Participation in the Discipline Review Committee is an opportunity to provide input for systemic changes to the school system’s discipline policies and the Student Code of Conduct. Participants will review the Student Code of Conduct and offer suggestions on how it could be changed to make it more effective.

Meeting dates are Thursday, March 14, Wednesday, March 20, Wednesday, March 27 and Wednesday, April 3.

All public documents distributed during the meeting are posted on this webpage.

Meeting 1 - March 14, 2019

The Discipline Review Committee met March 14 to begin a four-meeting process to review discipline procedures and the Code of Student Conduct. Staff presented information to the 41-member committee, which is composed of a cross section of the community, parents, staff, administration and teachers.

Eric Schwartz, staff attorney, presented a synopsis of discipline laws and Board policy. Patricia Vaira, a retired CCPS director of student services, presented school system demographics and suspension data. Kathy Kiessling, director of student services, explained services available for students.


Meeting 2 - March 20, 2019

The Discipline Review Committee met for the second time March 20 at Westlake High School. Committee members were divided into six groups for small group discussion about the Transportation and Dress Code sections of the Code of Student Conduct. Members provided suggestions for changing the Transportation section, including providing more positive descriptions, increases to levels of consequences for certain infractions, process improvements and clarification of subjective terms. A list of suggestions is posted.

Committee members began a review of the student dress code, including proposed changes submitted by students representing the Charles County Association of Student Councils (CCASC). The committee will continue its review of the dress code at its next meeting on March 27.

Prior to starting the review, Kathy Kiessling, director of student services, led a discussion about discipline scenarios distributed at the first meeting. Kiessling also distributed student demographic data including numbers of students receiving services for special education, 504, homeless, free and reduced meals, and English as a Second Language.

Meeting 3 - March 27, 2019

The Discipline Review Committee met for the third time March 27 at Westlake High School. Committee members met in their small groups for discussion about the Dress Code section of the Code of Student Conduct. Members provided suggestions for changing the dress code, including providing more positive descriptions, consideration of uniforms, description of acceptable leggings, length of skirts and shorts and consistency in enforcement. A list of suggestions is posted.

Committee members used proposed changes submitted by students representing the Charles County Association of Student Councils (CCASC) as a starting point for discussion. The committee will continue its review of the dress code at its next meeting on April 3.

Meeting 4 - April 3, 2019

The Discipline Review Committee met for the fourth time April 4 at Westlake High School. Committee members met in their small groups for discussion about cell phone possession and use at school, activities and on school buses. Members provided suggestions for changing the cell phone rules including adding guidance for new technology including AirPods and Smart Watches, clear guidance for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schools, consistency from school to school, use on buses and separating rules by each level — elementary, middle and high school. A list of suggestions is posted.

Additionally, co-chair Patricia Vaira provided requested discipline data for bus misconduct, dress code violations and personal electronic devices.

The committee has two more scheduled meetings to review the level of response in the Code of Student Conduct.

Meeting 5 - April 10, 2019

The Discipline Review Committee met for a fifth time on April 10 at Westlake High School. Superintendent Kimberly A. Hill and Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein presented the Fresh Start Academy program to the committee for comments and suggestions. Members of the group offered suggestions for promoting the program, use of technology and asked for more specifics. Fresh Start Academy is a program for children in kindergarten through Grade 2. Children recommended for the program are those who repeatedly display extreme disruptive behaviors. The behaviors, such as destruction of classrooms, running away from the classroom and causing physical harm to others, create a barrier to learning for all students. Students may be placed at the Academy only after a school has exhausted other available and appropriate interventions. Placement in the program is for about 45 days. The presentation and a Fresh Start Academy fact sheet are posted in the blue bar under Meeting 5 documents.

Committee members resumed their work on the Code of Student Conduct and began providing suggestions on the level of responses in the Code. Committee member Brad Snow, who is the CCPS director of transportation, submitted a copy of the transportation section of the Code of Student Conduct that includes revisions and suggestions developed from the Discipline Committee’s discussion at its first meeting. Committee members will review the transportation draft and submit additional suggestions and comments at the next meeting.

The committee has one more scheduled meeting to review the level of response in the Code of Student Conduct.