Manassas Journal Messenger | Revisions OK’d for sexual misconduct

The Manassas City School Board unanimously approved revisions to the Code of Student Conduct on Tuesday night.

The revisions add sections to the code on sexual misconduct and public displays of affection.

The board asked school system staff to draft these revisions after a sexual incident at Osbourn High School in September called attention to weaknesses in the current code, School Board Chairman Arthur P. Bushnell wrote in a letter sent home to Osbourn parents in October.

On Sept. 28, six boys and two girls were suspended after a custodian entered the high school’s auditorium and found them engaged in consensual sex.

Previously, the code of student conduct did not address consensual acts on school property.

“It had not considered the possibility that students would engage in sexual acts while at school,” the School Board’s Oct. 18 statement said.

Manassas City Police initially investigated claims that one of the students involved was sexually assaulted, but later found that there was not enough evidence to support that claim.

The revised code of conduct defines “sexual misconduct” as “any action involving sex that is contrary to community standards in a public place.”

Punishments for such behavior are also outlined in the new section and could include suspension, parental notification, report to law enforcement officials, meetings with the school psychologist and recommendation for expulsion.

Also prohibited in the new code are “public displays of affection” including kissing and “prolonged embracing.”

The revisions also expand the school principal’s authority to suspend students from extracurricular activities.

Principals now must prohibit a student who is suspended for more than five days from participating in extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, for some additional period of time.

Principals may also choose to do that for students suspended for a lesser period of time.

Previously, the principal’s authority to prohibit students from participating in sports and clubs was not explicitly stated in the Code of Student Conduct.

The revisions will take effect starting Jan. 3.

School system staff members are also drafting a new School Board policy that will address sexual misconduct. That policy will come before the board later next year.

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