Suicides raise discipline questions

According to school resource officer Tom Harrington, four Marshall students became involved in an incident involving illegal drug possession on Marshall grounds on March 17. The FCPS Student Responsibilities and Rights (SR&R) states that if any illegal drug or imitation illegal drug is possessed on school grounds, a mandatory ten-day suspension from school and recommendation for expulsion must be issued to the student and the incident must be reported to the police who may press criminal charges.

“Three of the four students have been removed from the building,” Harrington said. “The school system is dealing with them and one individual was brought back to school.”

Two similar FCPS cases involving students possessing illegal drugs have received attention in the past two years.

According to The Washington Post, in March 2009, South Lakes High School student Josh Anderson committed suicide before his second day of disciplinary hearings. Anderson was transferred to South Lakes after being caught with marijuana at his base school. At South Lakes, Anderson was once again found with marijuana and was likely to be barred from attending any FCPS school again. In late January, Fairfax High School sophomore Nick Stuban committed suicide months after he was removed from his base school for drug charges. Both cases have raised questions about the FCPS disciplinary system and sparked discussions across the county about how to deal with students who violate the SR&R.

In an article by The Washington Post Anderson’s father said that “no one can ever answer whether Fairfax County was responsible for what Josh did. But they pushed him closer to the edge than he needed to be.”

Last month in a National Public Radio discussion about the disciplinary system in FCPS, Sandy Stuban, Stuban’s mother, said that “Fairfax’s disciplinary process is broken … and unchecked.”

However, a student who is currently involved in the SR&R disciplinary process was less concerned about the system.

Regarding the student’s own recommendation for expulsion, the student labeled the action “appropriate” for the violation.

The student admitted “it is good that [myself and other students involved] were not allowed to stay in school, because [we] did violate SR&R rules and those are the consequences.”

The student’s family is, “very disappointed but agrees this is a consequence [the student] must deal with.”