Discipline board in limbo

Board cut from handbook during a legal review

Emma Trone, Editor-in-Chief

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Susan Shapiro

The faculty’s discipline committee is pushing to reinstate the high school’s Discipline Review Board, which has been inactive since last school year while under review by legal counsel. 

The Discipline Review Board originated as a three-way agreement between the administration, the faculty and Student Council to provide students the opportunity to weigh in on disciplinary decisions. In the case that a student undergoing disciplinary issues wanted to appeal the original decision made by the Dean of Students, the Discipline Review Board would review the case. Students elect classmates and faculty members to serve on the board.

Principal Stephanie Weber said the Discipline Review Board was temporarily removed from the Student and Family Handbook during a legal review by University lawyers.

“The whole handbook was reviewed by outside legal counsel, just to be sure that our discipline practices are in line with state law and independent school best practices,” Ms. Weber said. “She gave us some feedback, not so much about the discipline process, but there were some questions that she raised. She and I worked on it this fall, so I just need to move that process forward.”

In the meantime, students can only appeal their disciplinary decisions to the principal, Ms. Weber. The fall election of sophomores and juniors to the board were never conducted, resulting in no standing board for 2018-19.

Susan Shapiro is a member of the faculty’s discipline committee composed of faculty members selected to evaluate the principles of the Discipline Review Board. She said she is frustrated by the current lack of student or faculty participation in disciplinary matters.

“Being an old-timer, I find this very disturbing,” Ms. Shapiro said. “If there were things that needed to be tweaked or needed to be under consideration, [the Discipline Review Committee] certainly would consider these things. So to just throw it out, does not sit well with the committee. We can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. It’s the only place students have an important role in decision making.”

Ms. Shapiro said the Committee was not informed when the DRB was initially removed from the handbook, and that the committee has struggled to get information on the status of the DRB. In faculty meetings, Ms. Shapiro and fellow committee members have pushed for reports on the status of the DRB from Ms. Weber, including at the most recent meeting Feb. 6.

“We need to reconfirm the existence of the Disciplinary Review Board in whatever modified form,” Ms. Shapiro said. “On principle, faculty, students and administration working together to solve disciplinary issues should be reconfirmed.”

Ms. Weber said she supports student input in the discipline process.

“I believe in the idea of the review process, and I think it can be a good one,” she said. “I think having it as an option for students is a good thing, but we just want to make sure it’s in alignment with best practices and legal requirements about confidentiality.”

Grace Zhang contributed additional reporting.