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California bill would ban school suspensions for defiance and disruptive behavior

The bill is a part of an effort in the state to reduce suspensions overall

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A California bill that passed the state Senate and Assembly last month would prohibit schools from suspending students from school solely for the reason of "willful defiance," according to the Sacramento Bee.

The bill, SB 419, is a part of an effort in the state to reduce suspensions overall, and the next proposed step in that effort is to prevent public and charter schools from suspending students through eighth grade for disruptive behavior. Such suspensions are already banned for students in kindergarten through third grade.

Under the law, teachers would still be able to suspend students from their classroom for up to two days for disruptive behavior.

Democratic state Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, who wrote the bill, said the goal "needs to be to keep kids in school and to have them be successful."

Schools are encouraged to seek research-based discipline alternatives "that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the pupil's specific misbehavior."

Advocates of the bill point out that minority students are disproportionately suspended for "willful defiance" in California schools.

The state's education department reported that black students, who are only 5.6 percent of total enrolled students, account for 15.6 percent of willful defiance suspensions, while white students (23.2 percent of enrollment) account for 20.2 percent.

Skinner has in the past written on research that shows students who are suspended from school for extended periods of time are more likely to drop out and also more likely to be incarcerated later in life.

The bill, which is awaiting a signature from California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), would still allow schools to suspend students for violent offenses, drug offenses, bullying, and harassment of other students.

The city of Los Angeles passed a similar bill in 2013, and David Turner, a co-sponsor of SB 419 from an organization called the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition, said the policy has worked out well in Los Angeles, with suspensions going down and graduations going up.

(H/T: The Daily Wire)

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