Selected Policies, Regulations & Procedures
Following are summaries of frequently searched policies and regulations. They can also be found in the FCPS Calendar Handbook that is distributed at the beginning of every school year.
Absences from School
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Cheating and Plagiarism
Child Abuse and Neglect
Distributing Materials in Schools
Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco
Fees for Supplies and Activities
Firearms and Weapons
Military Recruiter Access to Student Information
Public Information Act
Searches On and Off School Property
Student Records and Information
Title IX: Gender Discrimination
Use of Animals in Instruction
Using Athletic Fields and Schools after Hours
Visitors to Schools
Parents are encouraged to notify the school on the day their child is absent. A note stating the reason for absence or lateness is required upon the student’s return, or the absence is automatically
classified as unlawful until an approved note is provided. Students who were absent from school have the responsibility to request make-up work within two days of their return.
Absences considered lawful and therefore excused, as described in the Public School Laws and Code of Bylaws of the Maryland State Board of Education, are:
- Illness of the student (doctor’s verification may be required)
- Death in the immediate family
- Court summons
- Hazardous weather condition
- Work or activity accepted by the school authorities
- Observance of religious holiday up to 3 days
- State emergency
- Lack of authorized transportation
- Health exclusion
- Other emergency (judgment of Superintendent or designee)
Students who take trips with their parents may be excused no more than twice during a year for a combined maximum of five days. Visits by students to prospective colleges are excused up to four days per year. In unusual circumstances, a principal may allow additional visits as excused absences.
Absences other than those cited as lawful are presumed to be unlawful and may constitute truancy.
FCPS Regulation 500-25 mandates that a parent letter be sent when a student accumulates 3 days of unlawful absences in any marking term. It also stipulates that a student may receive an unsatisfactory mark in grades 1-3 and a failing grade in grades 4-5 in the affected class or classes if there is an excess of five (5) unlawful absences in a term. Elementary students who have been
absent 27 days by the end of third term may be considered for possible retention. In middle and high schools, a student shall fail or lose credit if unlawful absences exceed 5 days in a term, 10 days
in a semester or 20 days in a school year.
A note from a doctor, dentist, court official or counselor may be required for all absences beyond 10 days.
High school students who are in danger of or who have failed/lost credit due to unlawful absences may earn days back with an approved plan by the principal.
Regular daily attendance at school is expected and critical to a child’s academic success. Parents’ support of regular daily attendance is essential.
A student is counted present for a full day if the student is in attendance four hours or more of the school day. A student is counted present for 1/2 day if in attendance for at least two hours of the school day, but less than four hours.
A student scheduled for less than a full day is to be counted present based on the amount of time he/she is scheduled.
Example: A student scheduled for a two-hour block of time will be counted present for a full day if the student is in attendance for that entire block of time. If the student is absent for that entire block of time, the student will be counted absent for a full day. A student scheduled for a two-hour block of time will be counted present for 1/2 day if the student is in attendance for one hour.
FCPS is dedicated to assisting students and staff in creating a digital-learning environment. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one tool schools may use for greater access to online resources. Whether students may use their devices is a site-based decision at elementary schools. Check with your principal to see what the policy is for your school. Middle and high school student use requires that the student and parent/legal guardian accept the terms outlined on the “Device Permission Form” the school provides. Staff reserves the right to revoke privileges associated with this use. Regulation 400-18 applies.
Everyone has the right to feel respected and be treated with dignity. Schools must be safe, provide an optimal environment for achievement and be free from violence.
Teachers establish clear behavior standards and make every effort to be aware of problems, provide proper guidance and supervision and consistently and fairly enforce policies.
Bullying incidents, however, tend to occur out of sight of school staff. A comprehensive approach that includes students and parents has the most promise in reducing bullying. It is not helpful to simply tell a child to ignore bullying or encourage a child to fight the bully. It is important to report bullying because it may not stop without help.
Students subjected to bullying, intimidation or harassment may file a complaint with appropriate school officials as identified in Regulation 400-48, which is available by contacting the FCPS Legal Counsel’s Office, 301-696-6851. The Regulation and reporting forms are available in schools and counselor offices and via www.fcps.org.
The nature of the schooling experience demands the highest standards of integrity on the part of all involved. Cheating is disseminating or receiving answers, data or other information by any means other than those permitted by the teacher as part of any academic exercise. Plagiarism is deliberately presenting work, words, ideas, theories, etc. derived in whole or in part from a source external to the student as though they are the student's own efforts. In addition, any incident of such behavior will be subject to the guidelines of Regulation 400-08.
Maryland law requires that every employee and volunteer of the local school system who has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental injury or neglect shall immediately report it to the local department of social services or appropriate law enforcement agency. The oral report must be made as soon as reasonably possible. At the same time, the employee shall also notify the school principal/designee, or immediate supervisor if the person is not school based. See Regulation 400-47.
Corporal punishment, defined as any intentional physical contact used in the act of disciplining a child, is prohibited.
Guidelines for distributing and posting materials in schools are in Regulation 400-30. The county-level PTA and government agencies may submit requests to distribute materials for approval at any time. Building-level administrators may approve materials from FCPS, local school PTAs and school booster clubs. Outside nonprofit groups may submit materials for distribution four times each school year. The Regulation includes contact information, a timeline, guidelines for bundling and delivery, and the disclaimer that must appear on all materials. FCPS will not give "blanket" approvals for agencies to distribute or post multiple items throughout the year; separate requests must be submitted for each item.
FCPS encourages schools to adopt school-specific dress codes to establish appropriate learning environments that reinforce the school's mission while respecting students' rights. The minimum standards are outlined in Policy 439. Given sufficient agreement among staff, parents and students and in accordance with Board policy schools may adopt a voluntary or mandatory uniform policy. Check with your school for detailed dress code information.
The Board of Education desires to maintain a safe, healthy and productive environment free of alcohol, tobacco - tobacco includes smokeless cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaporizers, dip, chew, snuff in any form - and other drugs. The possession, distribution, sale or use of alcohol, tobacco or any illegal or illicit drug, in any form, on school property at any time is prohibited. This prohibition does not apply to individuals providing an educational unit on the effects of tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
Provisions Applicable to Employees All individuals employed by the Board have the responsibility
to work diligently to discourage and prevent student use of drugs, alcohol, steroids and tobacco.
Any violation of Board policy may result in appropriate disciplinary action against an offender up to and including suspension or termination of employment. Any illegal activities may be referred to law enforcement officials. An employee may be required to satisfactorily participate in a drug or alcohol
abuse assistance or rehabilitation program.
Provisions Applicable to Students The school system shall take appropriate disciplinary action
against a student who violates these standards up to and including suspension and expulsion and referral for prosecution. The student may be required to complete an appropriate rehabilitation
program. Students and parents will be informed about any drug and alcohol counseling and rehabilitation and re-entry programs that are available to students.
Teachers and other staff members who suspect a student of violating this policy must refer the student to the building administrator.
For more, see FCPS Policy 112.
Maryland law requires an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to identify and control pest problems inside and outside schools. FCPS utilizes staff training, IPM inspection, and sanitation
practices to minimize or eliminate the need for pesticide use.
The law requires schools to notify parents, guardians and staff 24 hours before pesticides are to be applied. At the elementary level, parents/guardians of all students must be notified. At the middle and high school levels, schools must notify only those parents, guardians or staff who have requested notification. Individuals can obtain a notification form at each middle or high school office. The form must be updated each school year.
FCPS uses IPM best practices (monitoring and exclusion) to minimize use of pesticides. If an application is warranted, safety data sheet information is provided to the school.
Address questions about the IPM program to FCPS Custodial Services Manager John Carnahan, 301-644-5125.
FCPS conducts regular inspections of school facilities to determine the location and condition of any asbestos-containing building material which may be present. An asbestos-management plan for each building is available for review at the school or at the FCPS Maintenance and Operations Office.
Please direct any questions about environmental concerns, such as indoor air quality, hazardous materials, lead in water, radon or asbestos management plans to FCPS Environmental Health and Safety Manager Laura Olsen, 301-644-5172. (See FCPS Regulation 200-03.)
Educational equity provides all students with equal opportunities to participate in all aspects of the educational process. FCPS strives to provide every student access to quality, culturally responsive instruction and challenging curricular programs. Some students require particular interventions to help them better access the curriculum and take full advantage of educational opportunities.
FCPS expects all students and staff to exhibit behavior based on respect for the individual. Acts of discrimination related to race, religion, color, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or national origin will not be tolerated and will be investigated and responded to according to FCPS regulation.
FCPS promotes understanding and respect among students and staff, provides training and resources, and promotes equity in educational programs and human resources practices. Activities encourage appreciation of various heritages and differences and endeavor to strengthen community linkages.
Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act No qualified person with a disability shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of or otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives or benefits from federal financial assistance. The Section 504 coordinator for issues involving students is the Special Education Compliance and Student Support director. The Section 504 coordinator for issues involving employees, community members or organizations is the FCPS legal counsel. For more information, see FCPS Regulation 400-66.
Discrimination The board prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or sex and is committed to maintaining an environment that is free from such conduct. This policy applies to conduct during the school day and any school system sponsored activities. For more information, see FCPS Policy 309 or contact the FCPS Human Resources Department.
Schools may request that students provide specific school supplies and may charge fees for materials, workbooks, newspapers and other materials that will become the student’s personal property when the course or project is completed. However, there will be no penalty or other consequences for students who do not purchase the supplies. Nor can students be denied admission to programs based on inability to pay. Students will not be denied access to any FCPS-sponsored course or activity or their instructional program due to their financial situation. In the event of financial or other restrictions, students and parents are encouraged to work with the teacher, counselor or administrator to find alternative ways to obtain essential equipment or supplies and for waiving other fees that may prevent a student from participating. See Regulation 500-33.
School-sponsored field trips to enhance the curriculum are permitted at each grade level. Teachers may schedule additional trips in accordance with Regulation 400-05. Parents must give permission for students to participate; forms will be sent to parents prior to each trip. Further information is available at school offices.
Possession of any firearm or other weapon by a student on school property, including in vehicles parked on school property, is strictly forbidden. Look-alike weapons are also prohibited.
It is a serious offense for employees (except security personnel), volunteers, substitutes and visitors to possess any rifle, gun, knife or deadly weapon of any kind on any school property in Maryland. Offenders face criminal penalties and severe personnel consequences up to and including termination.
The school system’s prohibition on carrying or possessing a weapon on school property applies to loaded and unloaded weapons. This prohibition applies to weapons contained within automobiles.
Exceptions are provided for persons who display or engage in historical demonstrations using weapons or replicas of weapons for educational purposes; prior approval from the Superintendent or designee is required. Exemptions are provided for staff who use knives in the performance of their duties or staff who elect to carry a pen knife or a pocket knife.
See FCPS Regulation 300-39.
Maryland law requires that public schools be closed:
- Thanksgiving and the day after
- December 24 through January 1
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Presidents’ Day
- Good Friday and the Monday after Easter
- Memorial Day
- State/federal primary and general election days
The local Board of Education may also designate other days as holidays for valid educational-related reasons such as anticipated high levels of student absenteeism.
Reasonable accommodations may be available for students who wish to participate in traditional and customary observances of their religion on days when schools are open. A student who does not attend school for this reason is considered lawfully absent for the day, or any portion of the day, if the school receives a written request from a student’s parent or guardian. For more information about absences for religious reasons, please contact the school office.
Copies of the Frederick County Guidelines for the Review and Evaluation of Instructional Materials are found in every school and can be obtained from the Library Media Services supervisor. The policy includes the materials selection procedure, the procedure for review of questioned materials, and forms for requesting reconsideration of instructional material.
Regulation 400-73 provides guidelines for acceptable technology use. Use of Internet access in Frederick County public schools is limited to school-related academic activities, and staff members are responsible to ensure appropriate training and supervision of students. FCPS cannot control or censor all illegal, defamatory, inaccurate or potentially offensive material that may be available through access to the Internet.
Students are responsible for using school Internet accounts in an ethical, responsible and legal manner, and for school-related tasks only. Misuse of an Internet account may result in denial of a student’s access privilege, and may also subject the student to disciplinary action in accordance with the FCPS disciplinary code and criminal violations if warranted.
Middle and high school students may have independent, non-monitored access to the Internet if they obtain written parental permission. The Permission Form for Secondary Student Independent Access to the Internet must be signed and returned to the designated school staff.
Many schools rely on the expertise of volunteers for computer assistance. Regulation 400-76 provides guidelines for how computer technology volunteers work under the management and direction of the school’s designated technology coordinator. T
FCPS has established student data privacy standards in Policy 442 and Regulations 400-96 and 400-20 to ensure student information is protected and students are not used for targeted advertising based on data collected through online services.
Federal law requires school systems that receive assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide military recruiters and institutions of higher education, upon request, access to secondary students’ names, addresses and telephone listings. The requirement may be waived under the following conditions.
Secondary school students or their parents who do not wish this information released to military recruiters must annually:
- Deny permission on the Student Information Card and
- Return the completed and signed card to the school by September 30 or within 30 days of enrollment at that high school.
To request a public record from FCPS, please contact Monique Wilson, Legal Services (see page 50) or visit www.fcps.org/centraloffice/legal-services.
Religious expression in a public school environment is governed by the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions relating to separation of church and state and freedom of expression. Rights of students and staff members are specifically outlined in Policy 427.
At unannounced and randomly selected times, police canine units may visit schools to inspect locker areas, other areas of the buildings and cars in the school parking lot. In addition, a principal or assistant principal may make a search of the physical plant of the school including the lockers of students. The continuing effort to keep Frederick County public schools drug, alcohol and tobacco free is not directed against students, but against illegal substance abuse.
A principal or assistant principal may make a reasonable search of a student on the school premises if there is a reasonable belief that the student is in possession of an item, the possession of which is a criminal offense under the laws of this state, or a violation of any other state law or an FCPS rule or regulation.
In the absence of an administrator, teachers designated in writing by the principal and trained to conduct searches may make a reasonable search of a student on a school-sponsored trip if they have reasonable belief that the student possesses an item in violation of state law or an FCPS rule or regulation.
Strip searches by school personnel are prohibited. See Regulation 400-59.
The Board of Education prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in its educational program, activities or employment as required by Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and recognizes sexual harassment as a form of sexual discrimination. Sexual harassment of or by employees, students, volunteers, vendors or others having business or contacts with the school system is prohibited. All complaints of sexual harassment will be investigated and appropriate action taken.
Under certain circumstances, sexual harassment may constitute child abuse. The school system will notify appropriate enforcement officials in every case where there is reason to believe child abuse has occurred.
Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Reporting. Any person who believes he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment by a student is encouraged to report the alleged acts immediately to the student’s principal. Report forms are available in every building. If the complainant does not know which school the student attends, the report should be filed with the executive director of School Administration and Leadership.
Any person who believes to have been subjected to sexual harassment by an employee, volunteer, vendor, etc., is encouraged to report the alleged acts immediately to the executive director of Human Resources.
If the complaint involves the executive director of Human Resources, the complaint should be filed with the Superintendent.
If the complaint involves the Superintendent, the complaint should be filed with the president of the Board of Education.
If a complaint involves a member of the Board, the complaint should be filed with the remaining members of the Board.
Any person who knowingly and maliciously files a false report or statement may be disciplined.
Discipline. Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Disciplinary measures shall, at a minimum, be designed to end the sexual harassment.
Non-employees who violate this policy are subject to consequences up to and including the loss of their privilege to continue doing business with the school system.
Students who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.
Confidentiality. The school system will respect the confidentiality of the complainant, witnesses and the individual against whom the complaint is filed to the extent possible, consistent with the school system’s legal obligation and the necessity to investigate allegations based on harassment, and to take disciplinary action when harassment has occurred.
Student records are accumulated and maintained by teachers and other school officials who have a legitimate professional interest in student educational records as determined by FCPS and in accordance with federal regulation, state law and Board policy and FCPS regulation. Confidentiality of free and reduced-price meals eligibility information is strictly enforced, with access to information provided strictly on a need-to-know basis for assessment and evaluation purposes as required by designated federal programs.
Requests for access to records will be granted within 45 days after a written request has been made and at the mutual convenience of the parent or qualified student and the principal. Unless otherwise prohibited by law or court order, parents have the right to inspect and review all official school records of their children. Eligible students 18 years of age or older may review their own records.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that public schools, with certain exceptions, obtain written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from a student’s education records. However, FCPS may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent, unless the parent has advised the school to the contrary in accordance with FCPS procedures. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow FCPS to include this type of information from student records in certain school publications. For example:
- a playbill, showing a student’s role in a drama production;
- the annual yearbook;
- honor roll or other recognition lists;
- graduation programs; and
- sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members.
Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a parent’s prior written consent. Outside organizations include, but are not limited to, companies that manufacture class rings or publish yearbooks. In addition, federal law requires local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to provide military recruiters (see page 40) or an institution of higher education, upon request, access to three directory information categories for high school students – names, addresses and telephone listings – unless parents have advised the school that they do not want their child’s information disclosed without their prior consent.
Parents who do not want directory information from their child’s education records to be disclosed by their child’s school must notify the school in writing by September 30 or within 30 days of date of enrollment. FCPS has designated the following information as directory information:
- student’s name
- grade level
- participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- weight and height of members of athletic teams
- honors and awards received
- current school attended
- teacher/class assignment
Additionally, the school system will forward educational records on request to a school system in which a student seeks or intends to enroll. Prior parental or student consent is not required. For a comprehensive overview of law and school system practices regarding student records, see Regulation 400-20.
Special Education Records. Special education students’ confidential records are considered obsolete and will be destroyed six years following the completion of the students’ FCPS education. Persons wishing to obtain records prior to destruction should contact the special education department of the school the student last attended.
Student Data Privacy. The Board and FCPS have established student data privacy standards in Policy 442 and Regulation 400-96 to ensure student information is protected and students are not used for targeted advertising based on data collected through online services.
Surveys and Collection of Information. The Protection of Pupils’ Rights Amendment (PPRA) affords parents and students who are 18 years of age or emancipated minors certain rights regarding public schools’ dissemination of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. While FCPS does not conduct such surveys or require invasive physical examinations, this federal PPRA legislation requires all districts to provide parents and students with annual notice of their rights. Parents or eligible students may inspect, upon request and before the administration or use of, instruments used to collect personal information from students for marketing, sales or other distribution purposes, and instructional materials used as part of the educational curriculum. Details of the specific protections afforded to parents and students are online at www.fcps.org, Regulation 400-67.
Families have the right to ask for and receive information about the professional qualifications of their child’s classroom teacher, including:
- the college or university degrees or certifications held by the teacher,
- the subject area of the teacher’s degree or certification,
- whether the teacher is certified by Maryland to teach a particular grade level or subject area,
- whether the teacher holds a provisional certificate, and
- whether the child is served by paraprofessionals and, if so, the qualifications of the paraprofessionals.
To receive such information, please write the school principal, who will provide it within 30 business days.
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in educational programs or activities receiving federal funds and requires equal opportunity in admissions, athletics, counseling, access to courses, and employment policies regarding marital or parental status of students and treatment of students. All students and employees are covered by this law.
Questions or concerns about the application of Title IX should be directed to the FCPS Legal Services Office.
The scientifically appropriate use of animals in the classroom laboratory under qualified adult supervision is encouraged for learning purposes. Animal dissection is used to develop an understanding of living processes and must include a concern for the humane and proper treatment and use of animals, particularly vertebrate animals.
Animal dissection may be a part of the biology and life science program. However, in some instances dissection may be objectionable to a student. Students wishing to be excused from dissection activities on ethical or moral grounds should make their request known to their teacher in advance and will not be required to participate in dissection activities. Teachers are asked to work with students to identify alternative assignments, such as viewing a tape or film about dissection or using diagrams, models of animal anatomy or computer simulation software. These assignments should be agreed upon early enough to allow sufficient time for proper planning and completion. Students exercising alternative assignments will not be penalized in any way.
FCPS encourages opportunities for students to observe living organisms in their natural settings, and for teachers to emphasize respect for living things.
FCPS encourages public use of school facilities when they are not in use for the primary purpose of educating students.
Application procedures, fee structure and regulations governing the use of public schools and athletic fields are found online in Regulation 100-01. Directions concerning the use of facility online application form are at www.fcps.org.
To apply, please contact the school you wish to rent for specific instructions.
All visitors are required to use the main entry buzzer system, register at the main office and wear an identification badge while on school property. Media representatives must receive approval from the school office to interview, photograph or videotape students before proceeding to the activity they are covering. A building administrator may limit or refuse visitor access to school property to ensure student or employee safety or confidentiality or to minimize interruption. Persons who enter school buildings or grounds without reporting to the office or who disturb or interfere with school activities will be considered unauthorized and will be dealt with as trespassers under the law.
To allow adequate time for copying and transferring student records, schools prefer a minimum of two weeks’ written notice before a student transfers to another school district. When the student’s new school is out of state, the new school must formally request that FCPS send student records, and FCPS retains the originals. When students transfer within Frederick County or to another Maryland county, FCPS sends the original student records and retains a copy. In either case, upon written request and at a reasonable charge, parents may also receive copies to hand carry to the new school. For additional information, see Regulation 400-07.