Sacramento, CA – California students who disrupt their classrooms can no longer be suspended for their unruly behavior, thanks to a new law Governor Gavin Newsom endorsed on Monday.
Senate Bill 419, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020, will make it permanently illegal for charter and public schools to suspend defiant and disruptive fourth- and fifth-grade students, The Sacramento Bee reported.
The new law will also apply to students in grades six through eight for a period of five years.
The state already had a law on the books banning schools from suspending children from kindergarten through the third grade.
The legislation referred to such behaviors as “willful defiance,” KOVR reported.
School administrators have also been tasked with establishing “age-appropriate” alternatives to suspension that are “designed to address and correct the pupil’s specific misbehavior.”
Senator Nancy Skinner, who sponsored the legislation, touted it as “one of the best ways to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline,” The Sacramento Bee reported. “SB 419 puts the needs of kids first…[and] keeps kids in school where they belong and where teachers and counselors can help them thrive.”
Students throughout the state missed over 150,000 days of class during the 2016-2017 academic year due to their unruly behavior, according to the State Senate.
“Under this highly subjective category, students are sent to an empty home, with no supervision, and denied valuable instructional time for anything from failing to turn in homework, not paying attention, or refusing to follow directions, taking off a coat or hat, or swearing in class,” Skinner alleged, according to KOVR.
Proponents of the bill said that such legislation was necessary because minority students have been suspended for disruptive behavior more frequently than white students.
“I strongly believe that SB 419 will bring justice to California youth by eliminating suspensions for disruption and defiance, putting an end to discriminatory discipline policies and instituting restorative justice practices,” civil rights activist Delores Huerta told The Sacramento Bee.
The Charter School Development Center (CSDC) argued that the new law is a “one-size-fits-all” attempt that is nothing more than “a fix in search of a problem,” according to the paper.
“Charter schools were created to be public schools exempt from most sections of the California Education Code,” the CSDC said, according to KOVR. “Imposing unnecessary restrictions on these schools of choice is counterintuitive to the original intent of the legislature.”
“This bill is based on no credible evidence of an expulsion problem in California charter schools,” the CSDC added. “To the contrary, charter schools often serve as a school of last resort of students who have been expelled from traditional schools and these pupils thrive in a charter school environment.”