Policies and Regulations → Summary of Changes
COA-RA Behavior Threat Assessment
On August 26, 2019, the Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) superintendent of schools approved new MCPS Regulation COA-RA, Behavior Threat Assessment , to meet Maryland legislative mandates that require each local school system to adopt a behavior threat assessment policy consistent with the model policy on or before September 1, 2019. The new regulation establishes a research-based threat assessment process that provides appropriate preventive and corrective measures to maintain a safe and secure school environment, to protect and support potential victims, and to provide assistance, as needed, to the individual being assessed.
On April 10, 2018, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law Senate Bill 1265 (Chapter 30), theMaryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 , which enacted several updates related to behavior threat assessment teams in Maryland K-12 schools. Subsequently, the Maryland Center for School Safety developed Maryland's Model Policy for Behavior Threat Assessment that sets forth mechanisms, best practices, procedures, policies, and guides for the establishment of an assessment team or teams in each local school system.
The Board of Education approved new Board Policy COA, Student Well-being and School Safety , on June 24, 2019, which adopted the tenets of the Maryland model policy including authorization for MCPS to establish procedures for the assessment of and intervention with students, staff, parents/guardians, contractors, and non-affiliated individuals on school property whose behavior poses a threat to the safety of school staff or students. Regulation COA-RA sets forth implementing details for those procedures.
EEA-RA Student Transportation
On August 22, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) Regulation EEA-RA, Student Transportation , was revised by the superintendent of schools to meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board best practice recommendation of the use of passenger restraint systems on school buses. MCPS Department of Transportation (DOT) benchmarking showed that districts using three-point lap-shoulder belts report significant improvements in student behavior management and bus operator satisfaction.
Passenger restraint systems will be phased in on newly-purchased MCPS buses, starting with buses used for special education students that go into service in the fall of 2019, then with all newly-purchased buses going into service in the fall of 2020.
When a school bus or student activity bus is equipped with a passenger restraint system (i.e., lap-shoulder belts), all passengers shall follow safe riding practices for their use. All passengers shall be instructed in an age-appropriate manner the proper use of passenger restraint devices. Students who fail to use or improperly use such passenger restraint devices may be subject to discipline.
MCPS buses are equipped with cameras to increase the safety of buses. The school bus camera enforcement program, which is a partnership of MCPS DOT, the Montgomery County Department of Police, and the Montgomery County Government, supports the enforcement of school bus passing laws. In addition, DOT systematically reviews camera video footage of bus interiors, with more frequent viewing of footage from buses transporting non-verbal students.
GEF-RA Substitute Teachers
On August 15, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) Regulation GEF-RA, Substitute Teachers , was revised by the superintendent of schools in response to Resolution 232-19 adopted at the March 12, 2019, meeting of the Board of Education regarding substitute teacher qualifications. The Board requested that the MCPS superintendent of schools pursue strategies for securing a more plentiful pool of substitute teachers, in response to a national shortage of substitute teachers. Further discussion of substitute teacher qualifications and staffing took place at the July 11, 2019, meeting of the Board.
The superintendent of schools reviewed and benchmarked the requirements for substitute teachers in neighboring jurisdictions, and consulted with other stakeholders. The changes to MCPS Regulation GEF-RA reflect a change in eligibility requirements from the completion of the minimum of a bachelor's degree or a teacher educational program that included student teaching from an accredited institution, to a minimum of an associate's degree or a minimum of 60 college credit hours. The regulation also allows for a record of relevant paid experience and satisfactory performance in working with children in the prekindergarten to high school age range to be accepted after review of the candidate's record, if a candidate has not completed all of the college credits specified above.
Also incorporated in the revised regulation are Requirements for Training of Substitute Teachers on Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect , and the Guidelines for Responding to Allegations of Substitute Teacher Misconduct and Performance Issues previously developed by the Office of Employee Engagement and Labor Relations, in collaboration with the Montgomery County Education Association, the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals/Business and Operations Administrators, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of School Support and Improvement.
IKA-RA Grading and Reporting
On September 24, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Regulation IKA-RA, Grading and Reporting, was revised by the superintendent of schools to align with recent updates to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) that create additional oversight and documentation requirements for grading and grade modifications. Relevant procedures previously located in memoranda or guidance documents have been reviewed, revised as appropriate, and codified in Regulation IKA-RA, including:
JEA-RA Student Attendance
On October 8, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Regulation JEA-RA,Student Attendance, was revised by the superintendent of schools to align with recent updates to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) to clarify the impact of attendance on student grades. MCPS Regulation IKA-RA, Grading and Reporting , also was revised to align with recent updates to COMAR that create additional oversight and documentation requirements for grading and grade modifications.
Relevant procedures previously located in memoranda or guidance documents have been reviewed, revised as appropriate, and codified in Regulation JEA-RA to describe the conditions under which a high school student may lose credit due to poor attendance. High school counselors/administrative teams may use an Attendance Intervention Plan (AIP) as a form of intervention to improve student attendance. An AIP sets forth steps and strategies for students and/or staff to use to improve a student's attendance and/or academic performance. If the student has five or more absences, and the school team determines that the student has not shown improvement in attendance in response to interventions set forth in the AIP, the student will receive a failing grade in that course.
JEG-RA Home Instruction
On September 5, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Regulation JEG-RA, Home Instruction, was revised by the superintendent of schools to align with a recent update to Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 13A.10.01 Home Instruction that eliminates the requirement for local school systems to observe instruction and conduct annual home visits.
If a home instruction program is supervised by the local school system, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) previously required the parent/guardian to permit a representative of the local school system to observe instruction at a time and place mutually agreeable to both parties. Revised COMAR now eliminates references to observing instruction and annual home visits. This brings Maryland into alignment with several other states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
What remains is the requirement for local school systems to review a portfolio of materials maintained by the parent/guardian that demonstrates the provision of regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age. The portfolio is generally reviewed at the conclusion of each semester at such times as are mutually agreeable to the local school system and the parent/guardian.
Additional revisions to Regulation JEG-RA are included in response to communication with MSDE regarding the use of the word "qualified" in reference to nonpublic schools or institutions who may also provide supervision of a home instruction program. MSDE maintains a registry of such nonpublic schools or institutions that Maryland parents/guardians may use to supervise home instruction, but MSDE does not "qualify" them.
JGA-RA Classroom Management and Student Behavior Interventions
On October 8, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Regulation JGA-RA, Classroom Management and Student Behavior Interventions, was revised by the superintendent of schools to reflect recent updates to Maryland law. Action by the Maryland General Assembly in 2017 required the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to convene a Task Force on Restraint and Seclusion (Task Force) to consider the implementation of restraint and seclusion in Maryland schools, at the conclusion of which, MSDE recommended changes to Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) §13A.08.04, Student Behavior Interventions. The updated COMAR provisions add and clarify definitions, and strengthen provisions which require a continuum of behavior interventions to be part of a student's behavior intervention plan (BIP) or individualized education program (IEP). COMAR retains the requirement that restraint and seclusion are only to be used in emergency situations and add a requirement to ensure that any contraindications based on medical history or past trauma are considered. If restraint or seclusion are included in an IEP or BIP, parent/guardian consent is required consistent with Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §8-405.
MCPS Regulation JGA-RA, Classroom Management and Student Behavior Interventions, has been updated to reflect MSDE responses to the Task Force regarding restraint and seclusion, as well as to more fully address COMAR provisions regarding exclusion of a student from the learning environment, and annual notification and review of this regulation.
JHC-RA Reporting and Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect
On July 18, 2019, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Regulation JHC-RA, Reporting and Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect, was revised by the superintendent of schools to reflect recent updates to Maryland and federal law, and online electronic child abuse reporting practices. Specifically, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, prohibits any individual who is a school employee, contractor, or agent, from assisting a school employee, contractor, or agent in obtaining a new job, apart from the routine transmission of administrative and personnel files, if the individual or agency knows, or has probable cause to believe, that such an individual engaged in sexual misconduct regarding a minor or student in violation of the law. Further, recent updates to the Criminal Law Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland make it a misdemeanor for a mandated reporter to knowingly fail to report suspected abuse or neglect of a child. Such an individual may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and be subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.