A bill that would ban schools and principals from suspending students for willful defiance passed through the Senate Monday in a 30-8 vote. It now moves to the Assembly.
Under Senate Bill 419, it would keep kids in school by eliminating the suspension of students for low-level offenses known as “willful defiance. The bill would also apply to charter schools.
Existing law already applies for grades K-3 after AB 420 in 2013 passed the legislator and last year the state legislator and governor extended the k-3 ban permanently. Skinners bill would apply a ban for K-12 students through Jan. 1, 2025.
Under SB 419, teachers would retain the right to remove disruptive students from the classroom; the bill would only preempt full suspension, or removal of a student from school, for minor offenses.
Five California school districts have eliminated willful defiance suspensions, including Oakland Unified in Sen. Skinner’s district, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pasadena, and Azusa.
“SB 419 puts the needs of kids first,” Sen. Skinner said. “Instead of kicking them out of school, we owe it to students to figure out what’s causing them to act out and help them fix it.”
SB 419 is also designed to help reduce dropout rates in California. According to the 2012 Johns Hopkins University study, Sent Home and Put Off-Track, “being suspended even once in 9th grade is associated with a two-fold increase in the risk for dropping out.”
“Suspensions are not a formula for student success. Kids lose valuable instruction time causing them to fall behind in their studies; those same students are also more likely to drop out,” Skinner said. “Ending willful defiance suspensions will keep kids in school where they belong and where teachers and counselors can help them thrive.”
Editors Note: quotes pulled from Feb 27 Press Release