New Efforts to Avoid School Suspension for Student Infractions

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School suspension as a means of disciplinary action against students has created much concern about its ultimate effects on student performance, participation, attitude, and direction in school. Education Week reports that California has responded to this concern by implementing new provisions concerning school suspension as a disciplinary measure.

The goals include:

  • Requirements for school districts to try other ways to address student behavior before suspension
  • Explaining that expulsion is not required for students who bring toy guns or medicine to school
  • Finding alternative ways to address truancy without involving law enforcement
  • Clarifying that students may return to school after involvement in the juvenile justice system
  • Increasing awareness to appropriate agencies when foster children face expulsion

California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed five bills to this affect, but vetoed a bill limiting school suspension for infractions under the “willful defiance or disruption of school activities” provision. The issue is that “willful defiance” is the reason for a large percentage of school suspensions in California.

Gov. Brown explains that due to increased class size, budget cuts, and reduced school personnel, school officials need broad discretion in classroom management. But Matthew Cregor of the New York City NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expresses that student suspension for “nebulous offenses” means we don’t know what’s going on.” In essence, the issue is one that still needs further attention from the legislature.

For more information, check out Education Week’s article, “Calif. Laws Aim to Curb Use of School Suspension” by Nirvi Shah here.

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