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Proposed law would spare CA students from suspension for bad behavior

Posted at 6:06 PM, May 09, 2019

Students who routinely misbehave in class, show up late to school and otherwise act out could dodge suspension under a newly proposed California law that would ban a student’s removal by reason of “willful defiance.”

The suspension ban is already in place for students in kindergarten through third grade, a law that went into effect several years after San Luis Obispo High School Assistant Principal Nick Frost assumed his role.

“When I moved here to the Central Coast, it was the zero-tolerance era,” Frost said.

Insubordination, or willful defiance, was and still is punishable by suspension but that rarely happens at Frost’s school.

“Within the last three or four years, less than two or three times a year if that,” Frost said.

Just down the coast at the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, Director of Pupil Personnel Services Brian Zimmerman said some students who act out do face suspension.

“For the school year, we’ve had 66 suspensions for that and we have 17,000 kids,” Zimmerman said.

But Zimmerman said suspension is a last resort that’s used when detention, mandated community service and Saturday school just don’t work.

“There are some cases if you’ve done everything you can, a suspension is necessary,” Zimmerman said. “But I also see the fact that you don’t want to overuse this tool.”

That tool would no longer be available to teachers under this proposed Senate bill, something Frost sees as a positive shift in disciplinary style because he said suspension ignores the issues at home or otherwise that cause the student to act out.

“Research has shown that taking students out of class really isn’t advantageous to them and it’s not getting to the root of the problem,” Frost said.

The bill does not prevent school administrators from suspending students who threaten staff or students, act violently, or bring a weapon to school.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last session.