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Md. Law Gives Schools More Disciplinary Power

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Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening has signed legislation broadening educators' disciplinary powers and requiring a statewide code of student behavior.

Principals will be able to suspend students for up to 10 days under the new law, doubling the current five-day limit. Before returning a disruptive student to class, a principal will have to consult with the teacher who referred him for discipline.

The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, also makes parents liable for up to $2,500 in restitution for property damage caused by their children. And it requires schools to share information about expelled students with a child's new school.

In addition, local school boards will have to put in place programs for all students, starting in the elementary grades, to "promote positive behavior and reduce disruption." The state school board is required to set statewide guidelines for student conduct.

"We think that's important, given the mobility we have in our society," said state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

In the coming school year, she said, state officials plan to award $2.1 million to build alternative schools for disruptive students and $500,000 to help schools pay for discipline-related programs.

New Charter Law

Gov. Jim Edgar has signed into law a bill authorizing the creation of up to 45 charter schools in Illinois.

Under the measure, which was hung up in the final days of the 1995 legislative session, 15 charter schools will be allowed in each of three regions: Chicago, the counties surrounding the state's largest city, and the rest of the state.

The governor signed the bill April 10. Illinois is the 21st state to enact a law allowing charter schools, which operate outside the governance of local school districts but qualify for state aid through performance contracts that organizers sign with the state.

Technology Plan

Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad logged on to the state's fiber-optics network last week as he signed into law a bill that will allocate $150 million over the next five years to improve technology in the state's schools.

"The important thing about this program is that it not only gives schools additional resources, but it gives them the flexibility they need to meet their own district's individual needs," he said.

About $30 million will go to schools next year for updating equipment and training teachers.

Students and administrators across the state watched the bill-signing ceremony on monitors hooked up to the state'stwo-way fiber-optics network, which is currently operating in 78 K-12 schools and 51 community colleges.

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