School Board Ups Demerits For Tobacco, Members Also Increase Penalty For Violation Of ID Policy
The penalties for using tobacco at Harrisonburg Public Schools will now be tougher.
The School Board approved stronger measures on Tuesday.
Students who are in violation of the policy will find themselves suspended for three days after the first offense instead of a single day and five days after the second violation instead of three days. The penalty for the third offense, five days, and long-term suspension on the fourth offense remain the same.
The board acted after member Tim Lacey noted at the last meeting that dress code violations led to tougher penalties on the first two offenses than the use of tobacco.
Superintendent Donald Fordâ€™s recommendations for changes sought to give principals some discretion on penalties.
His proposal allowed for suspensions of "up to" five days, for the second offense, for example.
The proposed change, he said, made the consequence a little more significant but allowed a difference to remain between tobacco and alcohol, which has a punishment that includes an immediate 10-day suspension.
School board member Kerri Wilson said Fordâ€™s proposal brought the penalties in line with other offenses. But Lacey and school board member Tom Mendez wanted a stronger message sent on the use of tobacco.
Lacey and Mendez urged specific penalties be set instead of placing discretion in the hands of administrators.
Up to five days on a second offense could mean a penalty of one day, Ford said.
"You may not," Mendez said, "have the progressive consequences that subsequent offenses should."
Lacey said the "up to" three days for tobacco was the same as the penalty for violating the dress code on the first offense. Lacey noted that the division has tobacco-free schools.
The school board voted 5-0 to adopt the tougher tobacco penalties. Chairwoman Cathy Slusher was absent. In a separate vote, the board increased the penalty of the student identification policy from 3 to 10 days to 5 to 10 days on the third offense.