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Board wants tougher bus rules

April 20, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Students who break the rules while riding school buses next year will face standard disciplinary procedures if the Washington County Board of Education adopts new guidelines.

Until now, each school has dealt with such discipline on its own, said Transportation Director Chris Carter. The new guidelines will make punishment consistent, he said.

The list was developed by Carter and a committee of drivers and sent to several principals for comment.

A draft was given to the School Board on Tuesday.

If it is approved, parents will receive a letter asking them to review the list and sign and return an attached form.

The list doesn't change rules students are already expected to follow, such as "remain seated" and "do not damage any part of the bus."

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When a student breaks a rule, the driver makes a referral to the principal. The proposed guidelines suggest progressive punishment after each referral.

For example, middle and high school students would not be allowed to ride the bus for three days upon a second referral. They would lose riding privileges for the year after five referrals.

Principals could skip steps in the process if a situation becomes unsafe, according to the proposal.

The number of referrals would return to zero at the beginning of each school year. Students who commit serious offenses on the last day of school would face discipline the following year.

School Board member B. Marie Byers called the proposal too lenient.

"If we don't stand tall on standards of behavior, it's going to be a problem," she said.

But Carter said each principal would have flexibility in punishing serious offenses.

"What we wanted to show was a progressive kind of disciplinary action," he said.

School Board member Doris J. Nipps said she opposed waiting to discipline students who break rules at the end of the year. "I'm not sure it will have the impact we are trying to achieve," she said.

But board member Herbert Hardin said having a summer to think about breaking rules would make an impression. "If it were my children, do it," he said.

The board is expected to discuss the proposal further on May 4.

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