Suspensions for defying school rules may become a thing of the past in California public and charter schools.
Legislation introduced by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would ban such suspensions while aiming to understand what is causing the children to act out and treating it.
Senate Bill 274 is meant to keep children in school. It would end willful defiance suspensions such as failing to take off a hat or hooded sweatshirt in grades TK through 12.
“The punishment for missing school should not be to miss more school,” Skinner said in a statement. “Students, especially those with behavioral issues, need to be in school where teachers and counselors can help them succeed.”
Oakland and San Francisco unified school districts already ban willful defiance suspensions.
SB 274 builds on legislation previously introduced by Skinner and signed by the governor. Senate Bill 419 banned suspensions for willful defiance permanently through grade five and prohibits them in grades 6 through 8 until 2025.
“Students belong in school,” Skinner said. “Suspending youth for low-level behavior issues leads to significant harm, including learning loss and a higher likelihood that affected students will drop out of school completely.”
Suspensions for defying school rules have historically affected Black male students, according to Skinner’s office.
SB 274 is also meant to reduce the number of dropouts in state schools. High school students are twice as likely to drop out if they are suspended even once in 9th grade, according to a 2014 Johns Hopkins University study titled “Sent Home and Put Off Track.”
Skinner’s bill would also end suspensions and expulsions for truancy or tardiness.