Parental 'shadows' weighed by Arundel as discipline

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Students in Anne Arundel middle and high schools might soon have a new reason to behave: avoiding the disciplinary measure of being "shadowed" by their parents at school for a day.

That idea was recommended in a report submitted to the county school board last week by a task force reviewing disciplinary measures.

Task-force members think it could help cut down on offenses like students skipping school, cutting class, committing forgery and damaging school property.

"You have to figure out what you can do to get attention, and sometimes the standard disciplinary actions aren't what gets the attention of today's kids." said Frank Wise, a member of the task force that drafted the new Code of Student Conduct.

His stepdaughter, eighth-grader Megan Gugliotti, had a different view of having parents follow their children in school.

"I really wouldn't want that to happen," she said. "That's just embarrassing."

That's the idea.

The task force, which includes more than 20 teachers, parents and students, met in the spring to begin studying the current conduct code and drafting a new one. The draft was presented to the board Wednesday.

"Having parents in school is always a good idea, and this might be a means to get them there," said Jose Torres, co-chair of the task force.

"Perhaps through embarrassment or some other means, we can hope to modify behavior, even if it's temporarily."

The idea emerged from meetings that reviewed other codes of conduct across the state and country but didn't come from any particular school system, Torres said.

When brainstorming about disciplinary actions, Wise said, the task force wanted to "think outside the box and be creative and come up with options that were punitive yet still allowed kids to receive instruction," he said.

Task force members said they recognize that feedback for their new draft, and this measure in particular, might not always be positive. But they're counting on parents and the community to back the idea.

"We would hope that parents would be very supportive of the school, and as the need arises, if they have to come in for a class, or for an hour, or for a day, that employers would be supportive," Torres said.

He said that when he has threatened his children with going to school with them on occasion, "they behave in a different way so that I won't come."

As for bringing parents into the school system while punishing wayward students, the idea could work, said Megan Gugliotti, who couldn't decide whether that punishment would be better or worse than suspension from school.

She said the best thing about it would be the chance for parents to see what might be leading their children to misbehave. Maybe the student is skipping class because of a bully or a "big exam," she said.

But if the recommendation is approved by the board next year - and goes into effect the following fall - students would be adequately threatened, she said.

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