Important Legislative Update
From: PENT
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 10:01 AM
Subject: Important Legislative Update

PENT CADRE: IMPORTANT LEGISLATIVE UPDATE!
ALTERNATIVES TO SUSPENSIONS, EXPULSIONS AWAIT GOVERNOR BROWN’S SIGNATURE

Dear PENT Cadre:

The legislature has been very busy and several bills designed to promote the use of alternative methods of school discipline made their way out of the Legislature last week and are now pending before Gov. Jerry Brown.

As you know, earlier this year there were reports and data showing that not only does California have one of the highest rates of suspension in the nation but that minority students in many of the state’s schools are disproportionately subject to the disciplinary practice. Research also showed that students with frequent suspensions are at greater risk of becoming involved in gangs, dropping out of school and becoming a part of the juvenile justice system. Recent reports have also revealed that efforts undertaken in some California districts, including the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Alhambra unified school districts – as well as in other states – are beginning to show the positive results of less punitive measures, such as those that emphasize restorative justice (reflections of one's behavior), counseling, referrals to drug treatment and other social services, within the school setting.

BILL HIGHLIGHTS
Summarized from the SIA Cabinet Report Article: http://www.siacabinetreport.com/articles/viewarticle.aspx?article=2521

SB 1235 Pupils: Suspension: amended late last week to eliminate the mandate that schools with high suspension/expulsion rates develop alternative strategies to reduce the number of students being sent home for disciplinary reasons. The bill instead “encourages” schools to use evidence-based strategies to reduce their suspension rates if more than 25 percent of the student population is subject to the punitive, zero-tolerance measures. AB 1235 does require the Superintendent of Public Instruction and CDE to provide training and technical assistance to districts on the implementation of evidence-based school-wide strategies, and provides schools with two such options:

Option 1 – Use positive behavior intervention and support that focuses on setting specific behavioral expectations for students that reflect desirable behavior. When students uphold these positive behavioral expectations, they are rewarded and the positive habits are reinforced through school-wide systems. It is a proactive approach that involves the whole school community and seeks to prevent misbehavior by rewarding and recognizing desired student behavior.

Option 2 – Use other evidence-based school-wide strategies to improve school climate such as a restorative justice program, in order to create positive learning environments.
Whichever strategy is chosen, the legislation encourages that the strategy be implemented for a minimum of three years.

AB 2242 Pupils: Grounds for Suspension and Expulsion: would prohibit pupils who disrupt school activities or willfully defy school authorities from being subject to extended suspension or expulsion. Current law prohibits a pupil from being suspended or recommended for expulsion unless the principal of the school determines that the pupil has committed certain acts, and gives schools the discretion to take action for most offenses, some of which include:

  • Attempting to cause or threatening to cause physical injury to another person (Expulsion must be recommended for causing serious physical injury)
  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance (Expulsion must be recommended for possession or the sale of controlled substances)
  • Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property
  • Possession or use of tobacco
  • Committing an obscene act or engaging in habitual profanity or vulgarity
  • Possessing, offering, arranging or negotiating to sell drug paraphernalia
  • Engaging in, or attempting to engage in, hazing
  • Engaging in an act of bullying

This bill specifies that a student who willfully defies school authorities or whose behavior disrupts school activities can be subject to an out of school suspension for up to 5 days for any offense, to an in-school suspension, or to any other means of correction that can include community service during non-school hours.

AB 2537 Pupil Discipline: Suspensions And Expulsions: would grant discretion to school principals to not suspend or expel a student in certain circumstances, including finding that an alternative means of correction would address the conduct. The bill also specifies that possession of an over-the-counter or physician-prescribed medication for use by the pupil does not constitute “unlawful possession of any controlled substance,” and that possession of an imitation firearm does not constitute “possessing, selling or otherwise furnishing a firearm.” In addition, AB 2537 deletes a provision in current law that makes the “willful failure of a principal or the principal's designee to make any required report to local law enforcement agencies” an infraction punishable by a fine of $500.

AB 1729 Pupil Rights: Suspension or Expulsion: clarifies existing law by requiring that administrators resort to supervised suspension, out of school suspension or expulsion of a student only after other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. It broadens acceptable alternatives to suspension and expulsion by allowing administrators to determine age appropriate activities that address and correct the pupil's misbehavior. The bill further defines some examples of what falls under the guidelines of “other means of correction” and authorizes school districts to document the use of such methods in a student's record.

SB 1088 Pupils Readmission: prohibits a pupil from being denied enrollment or readmission to a public school based solely on prior contact with the juvenile justice system.

To keep informed and up to date on the final outcome of these bills:
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/
http://www.siacabinetreport.com
http://www.aroundthecapitol.com

Ann England
PENT Leader

"None of us is as skilled as all of us!"

 

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