Silver Chips Online

Student eligibility to run for SGA office limited

Board of Education approves changes in the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook

By David Jia, Online Blair Connections Editor
May 8, 2007
A new addition to an MCPS policy will affect the eligibility of a student to run for a student government office or be selected for other leadership positions. The Board of Education approved several changes to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook during a board meeting April 19. 

The new additions state that students seeking or occupying positions in SGA or other leadership roles "are expected to exemplify ethical, legal and appropriate conduct and comply will all policies, regulations and procedures on and off campus." 

These modifications are a product of the Board's concerns that certain student leaders might set bad examples for the student body. 

The school principal has the official and final discretion concerning eligibility for these positions. However, what defines such conduct is open to interpretation and students can always appeal if the principal denies a student a leadership position, said senior Terrence McPherson, president of the Montgomery County Region Executive Board, which is the high school county student government.

The board was driven to this decision by two incidents at Walt Whitman High School, according to McPherson. Last spring, Whitman senior Pat Lazear was charged with a felony; he transferred out of Whitman and was appointed captain of the football team at Wheaton. Several years before, former Whitman senior and SGA president Austin Lavin was caught cheating on a test but was allowed to retain his office.

Believing that students are still in a "learning phase" and are able to change, McPherson testified against these changes during the meeting.  "I personally don't think you should ever stop a student from running for SGA," McPherson said.

"Hopefully, these changes won't present any problems," said McPherson. "We'll just see how this plays out."

The Board first sought feedback on the original policy change students, teachers and principals before finalizing the policy at the meeting, which was mainly to revise and change the wording of the policy, according to Student Affairs Office Coordinator Kate Crawford.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/7518