School Suspensions for Disruptive Behavior May Come to an End in California

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A state senate bill awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature could bring to an end the policy of suspending students in California schools for disruptive behavior.

From the Sacramento Bee:

Senate Bill 419, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would prohibit schools from suspending students for disruptive behavior from kindergarten through eighth grade. It builds on previous law that banned willful defiance suspensions for schoolchildren up to third grade.

The proposed law would encourage school districts “to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion, using a research-based framework with strategies that improve behavioral and academic outcomes, that are age appropriate and designed to address and correct the pupil’s specific misbehavior,” according to a Senate floor analysis of the bill.

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The Bee reports that school suspensions for disruptive behavior have gone down significantly since the practice was banned in 2015.

And because black students are disproportionately affected by school discipline policies, the law aims to curb that disparity as well.

From the Bee:

Students of color are disproportionately suspended for unruly behavior in California schools. Black students made up just 5.6 percent of the total enrollment for academic year 2017-18, yet accounted for 15.6 percent of total suspensions for willful defiance, according to the education department.

By contrast, white students made up 23.2 percent of total enrollment and accounted for 20.2 percent of suspensions for willful defiance.

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David Turner, a co-sponsor of the bill, who is with the Brothers Sons Selves Coalition of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color called the bill “racial equity.”

“These particular kinds of suspension are being used to harm young people and especially black people in particular,” Turner said. “When we talk about racial equity, this bill is racial equity.”

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Turner told the Bee that after his group was able to get the Los Angeles Unified School District to ban so-called “willful defiance” suspensions, not only did the number of suspensions go down, but the number of graduations went up.

The law would apply to both public and charter schools, and it will force schools to come up with new ways of dealing with difficult students.

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Ramiro Rubalcaba, assistant superintendent at the Victor Valley Union High School District and former educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, told the Bee, “I’ve learned that our schools are designed to give us the very outcomes they were designed for. If we set up systems that are punitive and reactionary, we’re going to get negative outcomes. ...We can’t continue to do things the same way because we’re going to get the same results.”

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About the author

Monique Judge

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.