School Discipline Addressed: Legislators Get Passing Grades on Education

School Discipline Addressed: Legislators Get Passing Grades on Education

2012 Legislative Wrap-up7/20/2012
By Peter Marcus
The Colorado Statesman
School discipline addressed
Advocates for school discipline reform had a nervous ending to the legislative session this year as a measure addressing school suspension and expulsion nearly died as a result of political gamesmanship. House Republican leadership was prepared to let Senate Bill 46 die on the calendar along with 29 other bills in a last-ditch attempt to kill same-sex civil unions legislation. But the Senate was able to save several of the bills by adding them as amendments to House bills.
Senate Bill 46 was attached to House Bill 1345, the 2012-13 fiscal year school funding bill, which passed both chambers and headed to the governor for his signature on May 19.
The measure, sponsored by Sens. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, and Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, and Reps. B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, and Claire Levy, D-Boulder, gives increased discretion to school administrators and school boards when determining grounds for suspension or expulsion and referring a student to local law enforcement. Administrators are only required to expel a student in cases in which a student brings a firearm to school, as remains the case with federal law.
“We are thrilled that this crucial policy was finally able to make it through the legislative process because students need to be in school learning, not tied up in the law enforcement system for minor misbehavior,” said Ricardo Martinez, co-executive director of Padres y Jovenes Unidos, which worked closely with lawmakers to pass the legislation. “Hundreds of students, school employees and law enforcement officials have worked very hard to replace zero tolerance with common sense school discipline policies.”
In addition to giving administrators more discretion over disciplinary actions, SB 46 also streamlines reporting of disciplinary cases and requires enhanced training for school resource officers. The goal is to reduce referrals to law enforcement.
“When we keep kids in school, we help prevent them from getting involved in the criminal justice system,” said Levy. “This legislation was truly a community-wide collaboration that brought everyone together to reform and improve zero-tolerance policies that have been deemed inadequate.”
Students who advocated for the legislation raised similar thoughts. “Up to 10,000 kids a year will stay in school and out of the juvenile justice system for minor misbehavior due to our efforts,” said Brandon Garcia, a recent North High School graduate who worked on the legislation. “That’s a win for students and for schools.”

siteadmin

Related Articles

Close
en_USEnglish
es_MXSpanish en_USEnglish