School Board Approves Revised Discipline Policies

Students in the West Des Moines Community Schools who sell or attempt to sell or distribute alcohol, a controlled substance, or a look-alike may either be suspended or expelled from school under a policy change recently approved by the school board.

A revised version of Board Policy 502.8 “Alcoholic Beverages and Controlled Substances – Selling or Distributing”  and several other discipline-related policies were unanimously approved by the board on April 25, 2016.

Policy 502.8 had the most substantial change with the addition of  “long-term suspension” as a disciplinary option for students who violate the policy.

Previously, administrators could only recommend students be expelled from school for violating 502.8. The policy change allows administrators the flexibility to recommend students either be suspended from school for more than 10 days or be expelled from school.

For a long-term suspension, a student is out of school more than 10 days. Often educational services are offered and paid for by the district at a location other than a school. For example, the district provides the Four Oaks program at the Learning Resource Center. There is no set time period for an expulsion from school and the district provides no services. The school board must approve long-term suspensions and expulsions.

The Superintendent’s Board Policy Advisory Committee recommended the revised policies. The policy committee made its recommendation after surveying similar disciplinary policies from area school districts, most of which were similar to the new language.

During the open forum portion of the April 25 board meeting, parent Kelly Koch expressed concern with the number of disciplinary hearing the board has been addressing and urged members to provide mentors or other supports as opposed to suspending or expelling students.

Board members talked about holding a workshop session to further discuss student discipline policies and related research,