Portsmouth School Board votes in favor of changes to student conduct

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Portsmouth Public School students will be headed back to class with some changes to their Student Code of Conduct.

The school board voted 8-1 for multiple changes at it’s retreat Saturday morning. 10 On Your Side has looked into the district’s high short term suspension rates, where roughly 17 percent of students were affected.

Many in the community, both educators and families, have been working to come up with solutions to bring down the suspension rates. Making changes in the code of conduct was one of them.

Final draft of the Student Code of Conduct

For 2017, there will be no distinction between possession of a weapon in school and using it. It will include specifics about toy weapons, like water guns, which has been frequently discussed. Administrators will now be able to dish punishment for toy weapons differently than real weapons, as was done in the past.

“I think that was common sense needed in our common code of conduct, allowing the administrators to control that, we won’t have non-sense cases that go directly to the school board with cases of water guns,” said board member LaKeesha Atkinson.

Changes to Student Code of Conduct

The new code of conduct will also include a self-defense clause under the punishment for fighting which will help students who were attacked from not having the same punishments as their attackers. Students must fit the criteria in their case, which includes having reasonable fear and not using more force than necessary to protect themselves. Conduct for bullying and absences also saw changes.

10 On Your Side spoke with board member Ted Lamb over the phone who says the new code allows administrators to punish students based on their school level.

With the new school year approaching, the school board has their ears open to continue to make progress for students success.