Proposed changes would give Albuquerque principals more discretion

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A set of proposed changes to Albuquerque Public Schools’ minimum mandatory consequences would give principals more discretion in some cases.

The APS school board is scheduled to consider the updates at a board meeting on Wednesday.

In vandalism and arson cases, the district is looking to change the amount of damage needed to trigger certain penalties.

Under the current minimum mandatory consequences laid out in the student handbook, arson or vandalism that causes $1,000 or more worth of damage requires an expulsion from school. Anything between $200 and $999 in damage requires a long-term suspension.

The proposed change for the 2016-2017 school year would set the level of damage needed for expulsion at $10,000, with similar action causing between $1,000 and $9,999 worth of damage only leading to a long-term suspension as a minimum. Arson or vandalism that causes less than $1,000 of damage would only have a minimum penalty of a short-term suspension.

Another proposed change would affect how the district handles robbery and aggravated assault at school. Currently, principals have to report all of those incidents for possible legal action. Under the change being considered would remove that requirement.

“If it is a more minor situation that the principal feels that they don’t necessarily need to be referred for legal action, then they don’t have to,” said Shelly Green, APS’ interim head of the Student Services Center. “It allows principals who know their students, who know the situations, to use a little bit more of their judgement.”

Another set of changes would clear up current policy on suspensions from sports or other extracurricular activities.

The minimum mandatory consequences chart in the current student handbook is being changed to reflect that when students are suspended from school, they are suspended from sports for at least the duration of that time.

Right now, a controlled substance violation leads to an automatic 45-day suspension from sports and other extracurricular activities, but that isn’t necessarily the case for other violations.

The changes would go into effect during the 2016-2017 school year.

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