Sacramento – With students across California being suspended and expelled at alarming rates – and with no evidence that this severe discipline actually makes schools safer – Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has introduced AB 1729, a bill to encourage effective school discipline. The bill will be heard in Assembly Appropriations on Wednesday, May 16.
AB 1729 would ensure that school superintendents and principals can use effective – and proven – discipline practices that get at the core issues behind a student’s behavior and create a safer environment for all kids.
"California schools suspend and expel students at rates that exceed the national average, often for minor misbehavior that might have once meant a trip to the principal’s office or a talk with a school counselor," said Diana Tate Vermeire, Racial Justice Project Director with the ACLU of California, which is a sponsor of the bill. Tate Vermeire noted that this practice occurs despite research showing that severe discipline does nothing to make schools safer or to improve graduation rates. In fact, it can often have the opposite effect.
Moreover, students of color, students with disabilities and LGBT students are particularly likely to be suspended or expelled – with no evidence that this excessive discipline is due to higher rates of misbehavior.
AB 1729 would reaffirm superintendents' and principals' discretion to use other means of correction prior to suspension or expulsion, and provide alternatives in the state's school discipline codes. The bill would also require documentation of use of alternatives prior to suspension or expulsion to address student misbehavior.
"It’s clear that there are more effective ways to create safe and successful schools than through suspension and expulsion," said Assemblymember Ammiano. "AB 1729 would enable school leaders to use proven and effective practices that are designed to keep kids in school, help them make things right with anyone they’ve hurt, and teach them more appropriate behavior. Now that would lead to school safety."