Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Bills on school discipline clear first hurdle in state Legislature

California State Capitol in Sacramento
California State Capitol in Sacramento

Three bills in the California Legislature that aim to address problems with school suspension rates and discipline cleared an initial hurdle and passed out of committee today.

These include AB 2242, which seeks to reduce out-of-school suspensions for students under the category of "willful defiance," an often very subjective classification that includes behavior such as failing to bring materials to class, not paying attention or talking back. The bill would limit the use of such suspensions and instead have students sent to an in-school supervised suspension classroom.

"We’re not condoning any of these behaviors, what we’re saying is we have better strategies to hold students accountable, and what we know does not work is sending them home to an unsupervised vacation," said Laura Faer, education rights director for the nonprofit Public Counsel, which is sponsoring a number of bills on discipline. "What we do when we do that, we leave them subject to victimization on the streets or able to get in trouble with the law."

SB 1235 would require schools that suspend more than 25 percent of their students to adopt evidence-based, school-wide behavior strategies that work to improve the school climate and reduce that suspension rate.

And AB 2145 works to create accurate data reporting on California school discipline so as to determine what is or is not working.

Those with possible fiscal impacts will go on to the appropriations committee. The bills then head to their respective house floors for a vote.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).