Pilot would provide community service for some offenders
Prince George’s high school students may be assigned community service as opposed to suspension or expulsion under a proposed pilot program.
“I went to school in Prince George’s County,” said Del. Alonzo Washington (D-Dist. 22) of Hyattsville who proposed the alternate suspension program. “I’ve seen the numbers, I’ve talked to principals, I’ve talked to students, I’ve talked to parents, and we need another solution.”
During the 2013-14 school year, 13,846 students were suspended or expelled from Prince George’s County Public Schools, more than half — 7,463 — for insubordination or disruption, according to information from the Maryland State Department of Education.
Washington’s bill would create a program at three county high schools that would assign community service rather than suspension for nonviolent, nonsexual offenses committed on school property.
“We can’t continue to suspend our kids and keep them out of the classroom,” Washington said. “We need to find a way to keep the learning going.”
Washington said it is difficult for many working families to provide daytime supervision to suspended students, and that lack of supervision, combined with idleness, can lead suspended students to get into more trouble.
“By providing community service, we would be providing more of a learning experience for students,” Washington said.
School board chairman Segun Eubanks said the school board has yet to take an official position on the bill. Eubanks said the board’s Policy, Legislative and Legal Review Committee will consider the bill during its next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.
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