reform the Fairfax County Public School student disciplinary process by
working with affected families, FCPS, civil rights and child
development specialists, and legal representatives, so that the process
is transformed from a criminal and punitive approach to a restorative,
educational, and therapeutic process.
FCPS discipline processes must:
Support safe schools
Be reasonable and humane
Protect every child's Constitutional, human, and educational rights
Protect due process
Provide continuity of education as required under the law
Be appropriate to the infraction, to the child's individual situation, and to the child's developmental stage
Be transparent, consistent, and monitored
Function as intended
Priorities for Reform
a community-based approach to address priorities for reform in the long term,
focused on the following:
Foster the safety of schools, students, teachers, and other
staff by focusing on root causes and prevention of disciplinary issues.
Meaningfully engage the community, affected families (including
students), teachers, psychologists and social workers, advocates, and experts, in
full partnership with established county services in a holistic reform effort.
Eliminate suspension, expulsion, and involuntary transfers
as the cornerstones of disciplinary actions and limit law enforcement referrals to cases of
imminent threats to personal safety. Establish alternatives that focus on
prevention and logical consequences proportionate to the danger posed by a
child's action, that are developmentally and educationally appropriate, and
that support restorative outcomes and continued education.
Establish reforms that reflect evidence-based research,
data, best practices,
and a culture of fair play and good intentions aimed at supporting the success
and wellness of each and every student/child and his/her family.
Ensure that civil rights of students are protected, including 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th
Reduce inconsistencies and eliminate
any discrimination in disciplinary practices among schools, and establish
equal protection under the law. Revise and create consistent school system
policies and procedures that address each individual student’s specific
circumstances to ensure due process.
Immediate Actions Pending Comprehensive Overhaul
We request a major overhaul of
the district’s discipline policies, but immediate necessary first steps include
1. Stop school transfers: Stop all involuntary school transfers
of students except when there is an imminent danger to the student body or school
2. Record hearings: Electronically record all
interrogations and hearings and provide them at no charge to parents/guardians.
3. Respect due process rights and involve parents: 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.
4. Stop disproportionally disciplining minorities and students with disabilities and minorities. Suspensions at majority minority/poor schools are alarmingly higher than at majority white/Asian/advanted schools. The number of favorable Manifestation Determination Reviews (MDRs) has decreased and students with disabilities, who make up only about 14% of the school population, suffer 44% of suspensions/reassignments. Serious measures must be taken to reduce this disproportionality.
5. Provide education continuity: Provide appropriate educational
services to all students throughout the entire discipline process. Provide accommodation
and extracurricular activities at alternative schools for LD and IEP students.
6. Consider mitigating circumstances: Require principals, hearing
officers, and any other officials involved in a disciplinary action to apply
“special circumstances” in determining a disciplinary outcome, pursuant to
Virginia Code § 22.1-277.06, § 22.1-277.07, and § 22.1-277.08.
7. Respond to all FOIA requests completely and within the time required
by law. Track all data related to discipline processes and
policies and provide it to school board members on request.
8. Employ an objective process: Replace the current Hearings
Office with an objective mediation process that is managed by a third party
outside the school and county system.
principals accountable: Require thatprincipals be responsible and accountable for reductions in suspension
and expulsion rates at their schools.
The Virginia legislature and Department of Education also must
review and revise the Virginia Code and state guidelines.
Mission:Transform the Fairfax County Public School
discipline system from a criminal and punitive approach to a restorative,
educational, and therapeutic process by working with families, FCPS,
county staff, civil rights and child development specialists, and legal