WINCHESTER — Students involved in discipline cases in Winchester Public Schools could be faced with a shorter time period to appeal a School Board discipline committee decision, if the decision isn’t unanimous.

Brian Wray, the school division’s director of secondary instruction, proposed giving students or their parent or legal guardians a three-day limit to appeal a non-unanimous decision by the discipline committee, but School Board members agreed during a Monday night work session that the amount of time allotted should be longer.

Ward 3 School Board member Elyus Wallace said seven days would be better to give the affected parties a chance to understand and gather what they need for an appeal.

Currently, an appeal can be made at any point between the disciplinary committee’s ruling and 30 days, said Winchester Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum. Unanimous decisions cannot be appealed.

The problem with the current policy is that a parent could appeal 29 days after the first discipline committee decision, which means the full board would have to meet and make a decision in one day, which Van Heukelum said is “not logistically possible.”

Wray noted that it’s “not a common occurrence where you don’t have a unified School Board disciplinary committee decision.”

As a point of comparison, Frederick County schools gives seven days to make an appeal, while Richmond schools give five days, Wray said.

Typically, parents are informed about a decision from the discipline committee, which is made up of three board members, either in person after a disciplinary hearing, over the phone or in a mailed letter. If a student or parent does not answer the phone, the time period for an appeal begins after the letter is sent, Wray said.

The board will vote on the proposed policy revision on Aug. 26. The proposal will give families the right to appeal a non-unanimous discipline committee decision within seven calendar days, and the board will render a final decision on the appeal as a quorum within 30 days of the committee’s initial decision.

The proposed policy revision also states that the family must request their appeal in writing, along with any documentation in support of their position.

Attending Monday night’s Winchester School Board work session meeting at 12 N. Washington St. were Winchester Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum, School Board Chairperson Allyson Pate, Vice Chairperson Marie Imoh and School Board members Karen Holman, Bryan Pearce-Gonzales, Erica Truban, Richard Bell, Mike Birchenough and Elyus Wallace.

— Contact Anna Merod at amerod@winchesterstar.com

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