Discipline and Safety Policies

Unexcused Absences | Grading and Reporting | Rights of Privacy | Dressing and Grooming | Sexual Harassment | Student Records | Search and Seizure | School Safety and Security (Codes Blue and Red) | Fire Drill Procedures | General Discipline | MCPS Offenses and Consequences | Suspensions | Expulsions and Extended Suspensions of More Than Ten Days | Electronics Use Policy| Inclement Weather Procedures

Unexcused Absences

An absence that is not excused is an unexcused absence. If you are late to class three times without valid excuses, that counts as one unexcused absence in the class. If you miss a day of school and are not excused, you will have an unexcused absence in each class you miss.  Three unexcused instances of tardiness equal one unexcused absence.

Work Missed During an Absence

You are responsible for making up any work you miss during an absence, regardless of the reason for the absence. If the absence is excused or is a result of a suspension, your teacher will help you make up your work. If the absence is unexcused, your teacher does not have to help you make up the work you missed, give you a retest, or give you an extension on work that was due. Even though the teacher does not have to help you get credit for missed work, you still have to make up the work so that you can complete the rest of the course.

Grading and Reporting

Grading and reporting practices will be fair and meaningful and support rigorous performance standards for all students. Grades will have consistent meaning throughout the school system and be based on grade level and course expectations as outlined in the curriculum.

In grades 9-12, grades reflect academic achievement in relation to course expectations. Teachers implement procedures for re-teaching/reassessment and homework. Teachers implement late work procedures, and work that has not been attempted and submitted by the established deadline will be recorded as a zero. Extra credit is not permitted.

Rights of Privacy

Your privacy will be respected by school staff. You cannot be required to reveal anything about your personal life or family as part of a classroom activity. Classroom discussions will focus on the subject you are learning, not on you personally. Sometimes you will talk about personal things in class, such as your feelings or attitude. Nevertheless, you cannot be required to reveal anything about your family, relationships, problems, or anything else about your personal life. You also will not be required to make any comparisons involving yourself and your family. If your parents/guardians should ask that you not participate in classroom activities that are part of the state-required Comprehensive Health Education Curriculum, which includes discussion on maturation and human reproduction and/or HIV/AIDS, appropriate alternative activities will be provided for you.

Dressing and Grooming

Any school personnel may advise students about inappropriate dress and grooming for school, in accordance with community standards for dress and grooming. School personnel may not discipline you for your style of dress or grooming unless any of the following occur:

  • It is likely to cause or does cause disruption to school activities.
  • It endangers health or safety.
  • It fails to meet a reasonable requirement of a course or activity.
  • It is associated with gangs.
  • It is lewd, vulgar, obscene, revealing, or of a sexual nature.
  • It promotes the use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined in MCPS Policy ACF as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other inappropriate verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that takes place under any of the following circumstances:

  • When submission to such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of employment, instruction, or participating in other school activities.
  • When submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used by the offender as the basis for making personal or academic decisions affecting the individual who is subjected to the sexual advances.
  • When such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual's work and/or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

It is against MCPS policy and unlawful for MCPS employees or students to commit acts of sexual harassment.

Student Records

School administrators will maintain a student record for you. Your record has a cumulative folder that contains basic information about you recorded on MCPS forms. In some special circumstances, a confidential folder may be created for you. School personnel must inform your parent when they create a confidential folder. You and your parents both have the right to see your cumulative student record during a meeting with school personnel. If you want, school personnel can explain or interpret your cumulative record for you.

Within thirty days of the beginning of the school year, MCPS will give public notice of the categories that will be considered directory information. This information will include your name, home address, including e-mail address if applicable, phone number, date and place of birth, and other information. Your home address and phone number may only be given to organizations of parents, teachers, students, former student, or any branch of the military. Your parents may exclude any or all of this information from being considered directory information. If you exclude this information, it will be treated the same as any other information in your student record. If you have reached the age of majority, you have the same rights regarding your student record as your parents. However, if you are dependent on your parents, they have access to your student records regardless of your age.

Search and Seizure

The principal, assistant principal, or security assistant may conduct a reasonable search of a student on the school premises or on a school-sponsored activity if he/she has a reasonable belief that you possess something this is illegal under Maryland law (such as illegal drugs) or a violation of any state law or rules or regulations of MCPS. The principal, assistant principal, or security assistant will do the following:

  • Inform you (verbally or in writing) that you have a right to appeal the legality of the search.
  • Search you only in front of a third party who has reached the age of majority (18 years old or married).
  • Return anything taken from you within a reasonable time, unless it it illegal to have the item or the item poses a danger to you or others.

The principal, assistant principal, or security assistant also may search any part of the school. This includes your locker. If your locker is searched, the school official should make a reasonable effort to obtain your consent before he/she searches it. A designated teacher may conduct a search of a student on a school-sponsored trip if he/she has a reasonable belief that you possess something this is illegal under Maryland law (such as illegal drugs) or a violation of any state law or the rules or regulations of MCPS.

The principal will inform you and your parents, in writing, at the beginning of each school year about the rules of search and seizure.

School Safety and Security (Codes Blue and Red)

The safety of students and staff is essential to maintaining a positive learning environment. Safety and security is everyone's concern. In order to be prepared for an emergency/crisis situation and as a proactive approach to school safety, all schools have developed a school/emergency crisis a plan. A crisis is an unpredictable, unplanned situation that requires an immediate response. Crises may include but are not limited to, bomb threats, criminal activity, fire, hazardous materials incidents, and weather-related incidents. Procedures called Code Blue and Code Red have been developed as a response to an emergency/crisis situation, and are part of the school's emergency/crisis preparedness plan. It is vital that students, staff, and parents have an understanding of these emergency procedures.

Code Blue is a term used to alert staff that an emergency/crisis exists at or near an MCPS facility. It requires an enhance level of security in the school building. This code requires all students to be accounted for. Classroom instruction may continue. Depending on the situation (the nature of the emergency or potential threat), it may not be safe to change classes. In these situations, class bells should be turned off and students/staff should remain in their classrooms until directed otherwise by the administrator/designee. If students are in the hallways, they must quickly return or go to their currently assigned classrooms, remain calm, and follow staff instructions.

Code Red is a term used to alert staff members that imminent danger exists inside or outside of an MCPS facility and requires moving to an immediate lockdown mode. It require a maximum level of security in the school building. During a code red, staff and students must remain within their classroom or within a secured area. If students are in the hallways, they must quickly move to the nearest securable location, remain quiet, and follow staff instructions. Staff should secure their immediate area and account for students. Students should also be kept away from doors and windows.

In an effort to provide students, staff, and parents an anonymous way to report safety and security concerns, two SAFE SCHOOLS HOTLINES have been established. These hotlines are staffed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and do not utilize Caller I. D. Remember, these concerns need to be reported in a timely manner to a responsible adult or through the SAFE SCHOOLS HOTLINES.

MCPS SAFE SCHOOLS 24-hour Hotline: 301-517-5995
Maryland SAFE SCHOOLS Tip Hotline: 1-877-636-6332 (toll-free)

Fire Drill Procedures

In the event of a fire drill, everyone is to evacuate the building immediately. All school rules are still in effect during emergencies. As students and staff vacate the building you must remain silent so you and your teachers can hear any instructions that may be given. Students and staff must walk calmly and quietly several feet away from the school building. When the signal is given, students and staff may re-enter the building quietly and orderly.

General Discipline

Students and staff will be responsible for treating each other fairly and creating and maintaining a safe, health learning environment that promotes mutual respect. You may face disciplinary actions as a consequence of any behavior that disrupts classes, causes disorder, invades the rights of others, or is unsafe or violates a school rule or disciplinary code. Discipline will be fair and appropriate and not designed to embarrass students. There are types of behavior that may result in significant consequences in terms of disciplinary actions and criminal sanctions.

Whenever possible, the disciplinary action you get will be related to your offense. It cannot simply be punitive. Rote work is not allowed as a consequence. Any MCPS student-athlete with verified use or possession of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, and/or controlled substances on school property or at a school-sanctioned event shall receive a minimum 10 consecutive school day suspension from all athletic activities.

You can never be punished physically. However, school personnel may use reasonable force to break up a fight, prevent violence, or restrain a disruptive student on school premises or during a school-sponsored trip. Grades will never be adjusted as a form of disciplinary action. An entire group cannot be disciplined for the actions of some members of the group. This rule applies even when it is unknown who is responsible for the actions.

Discipline may be imposed for offense for school activities outside of the regular school hours, including on a school bus or at a bus stop. If you do things outside of school that are related to school (for example, harassing a teacher or fighting with a student while walking home), school authorities may talk with your parents about it or take other appropriate disciplinary actions. There are times when a student's behavior seriously disrupts the instructional program, and in such circumstances, a student may be temporarily removed from class. Absences from class due to disciplinary action are excused absences and staff members should make reasonable efforts to assist students in making up tests and other missed work.

MCPS Offenses and Consequences

Nondiscretionary Expellable Offenses (The Big Five)

  • Bomb/facsimile possession or bomb threats
  • Distribution of intoxicants
  • Firearms
  • Violent physical attack on a staff member
  • Weapons used to cause bodily harm/injury

Offenses with a Range of Consequences

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Bullying
  • Computer abuse
  • Destruction of public property (vandalism)
  • Extortion
  • Fire setting
  • Hate crime (verbal or physical)
  • Hazing
  • Other weapons
  • Physical attack on a student
  • Physical attack on a staff member
  • Plagiarism
  • Possession or use of intoxicants
  • Sexual offense
  • Theft/burglary
  • Threat
  • Verbal abuse


The principal has the right to suspend your for 10 days or less, with a proper reason. If you are suspended, you cannot go to classes or take part in school activities for a specified time. You also will be banned from school grounds and school activities unless you have the approval of the principal. Before you are suspended, an informal conference will be held that will include the following:

  • Reason for suspension
  • Oral or written notice of the charges against you
  • An explanation of the evidence against you
  • A chance to tell your side of the story

If you pose a danger to people or property or are an ongoing threat to disrupt classes and/or school activities, you may be immediately removed from the school. Your informal hearing will take place as soon as possible. An administrator will notify your parents if you are suspended. Additional rules may apply for students with disabilities. The notification will include the following information:

  • How long you are suspended and when the suspension began
  • An offer to meet with your parents ass soon as possible
  • Information about the appeal process (principal, field supervisor or student services, superintendent, Board of Education)

Expulsions and Extended Suspensions of More Than Ten Days

You may be recommended to be suspended for longer than 10 days and/or recommended for expulsion. If either situation occurs, the field office student services supervisor or designee will review all of the information and contact your parents. Field office staff will telephone your parents or arrange for a conference. Your parents will get a decision in writing that will include reasons for the decision. The decision could be to return you to your school, suspend you beyond 10 days, or refer you to the deputy superintendent for expulsion. Extended suspensions may be appealed by your parents to the Board of Education. The appeal must be in writing and given to the Board of Education within 10 days of receipt of the written decision.

If the decision is made by the field office student services supervisor is to refer your case for expulsion, the deputy's office will conduct a hearing with school and field office personnel, you and your parents. A decision on the recommendation for expulsion will be made. Your parents will have the right to appeal the decision to the Board of Education in writing within 10 days of receipt of the written decision. If you are expelled, you cannot attend any Montgomery County public school or any other MCPS program or activity. If you are given an opportunity to apply for readmission in the future, you will be required to complete an application packet and provided documented evidence of your participation in specific activities during the time of your expulsion.

Electronics Use Policy

Download the Northwood Electronics Use Policy

Inclement Weather Procedures

Winter weather emergencies, such as snow and ice, may cause disruptions in school operations, including the closure of school, a delayed opening, or an early dismissal.

Closure of School

When schools are closed systemwide, all instructional programs and extracurricular activities in schools are canceled.  Private day-care providers in school buildings may elect to stay open if the schools are closed but the administrative offices are open.  In extreme conditions, administrative offices also may be closed.  If this occurs, private day-care programs located in school buildings are closed as well.

Delayed Opening

A delayed opening means that schools open two hours later than scheduled.  All buses operate on the same delayed schedule and, therefore, the pick-up times are two hours later than normal.  When elementary schools open on a delayed schedule, the following programs are canceled—Morning sessions of half-day Head Start, prekindergarten, and other specialized programs or field trips scheduled before 10:30 a.m.; e.g., the Thomas Edison High School of Technology morning session.  Activities that begin after 10:30 a.m. will be held as scheduled.  Afternoon sessions of prekindergarten begin at the regular time.  Full day Head Start follows the same schedule as other full day programs.  Parents should continue to check for radio, television, or Web announcements in the event a decision to delay the opening of schools is reconsidered and a decision to close schools for the day is made (by 7:00 a.m.).

Early Dismissal

An early dismissal means that schools will close 2.5 hours earlier than scheduled.  All buses operate on that same early schedule and, therefore, drop-off times are 2.5 hours earlier than normal.  When elementary schools close early, afternoon prekindergarten and other early childhood programs are canceled, as well as any special programs or field trips scheduled after 10:30 a.m.  Morning prekindergarten and morning half-day Head Start students will be dismissed at 10:30 a.m.  Full day Head Start classes will dismiss with regular kindergarten through Grade 5 students.

Public Announcements

Information about school operations is announced publicly as soon as possible on area radio and television stations, Montgomery County Public Schools Cable TV (Comcast Channel 34, Verizon FIOS Channel 36, RCN Channel 89), Outlook, on the Internet at www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org and on a recorded telephone message at 301-279-3673.  Emergency e-mail announcements are available by signing up for MCPS QuickNotes on the school system’s home page.  If schools are closed or delayed, the announcement is made by 5:00 a.m. (or the night before if possible).  If schools are closing early, the announcement is made by 11:00 a.m.

Emergency Weather Contingency Plan

An emergency weather contingency plan will add student instructional days to the end of the scheduled school year if schools are closed more than four days because of weather emergencies.

Weather Conditions and Decisions

The school system uses a variety of sources of information to determine whether to close schools, delay the opening of schools, or dismiss schools early.  These sources include actual physical inspection of road and school conditions by transportation officials and other staff at areas throughout the county, and an analysis of independent reports from the National Weather Service, Accu-Weather, and the news media.  The most severe weather conditions within the county are used as the basis for decision-making.  Consistent procedures are maintained in order to respond quickly to emergency weather conditions and protect the safety and well being of students.

All public schools within Montgomery County adhere to the same schedule concerning emergency weather conditions.  The decision to change school operations is made by the superintendent of schools or his designee and affects all schools within the school system.