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Letter to the Editor: School Discipline Needs Reform

Shanlon Wu says our children deserve no less.

As a parent and an attorney, I commend the McLean Patch for covering the need to reform school disciplinary policies, namely the Feb. 6 article, “The Ad Hoc Community Committee on Student Rights and Responsibilities is Gathering Community Input." 

The District of Columbia and Maryland are seeking to curb injustices by addressing the disproportionate suspension rate for charter schools and reducing out-of-school suspensions for nonviolent offenses respectively. The Fairfax school system should follow suit, given that college and university discipline codes suffer the same lack of uniformity.

The proposed amendments to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook requiring students be notified of their right to remain silent is a step in the right direction. Withholding such basic student rights creates a recipe for unfair punishment and often prevents a student from reaching his or her full potential.

Many colleges and universities even forbid the presence of attorneys in their discipline proceedings despite the fact that expulsions and suspensions may wreak as much havoc on future careers as criminal convictions. The time is now for a model student bill of rights that includes the right to counsel. Our children deserve no less.

Shanlon Wu
Alexandria

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