Bill limiting out-of-school suspensions for young students signed into law

student suspensions

Out-of-school suspensions will be limited for young Texas students, starting this coming school year.

State Representative Eric Johnson’s bill, HB 674, was signed into law June 12. It will limit suspensions for children in prekindergarten through second grade.

“HB 674 will ensure that school districts in Texas find real hardcore solutions for misbehaviors, instead of pushing them out of school through suspensions,” a representative for the Texas Organizing Project said at a press conference Wednesday.

Johnson explained Wednesday that students under third grade can only be suspended or expelled for extreme cases of misbehavior, such as bringing guns or drugs to school, or excessive violence.

Academic studies have showed that young students who are suspended or expelled from school are more likely to drop out of school or face incarceration than students who are not removed from the classroom in their youth.

Dallas schools trustee Miguel Solis is clear that one of the goals of the bill is to aid African-American children.

“The data are really clear,” he said. “In the state of Texas, if you are particularly a young black boy, you are more likely to be caught up in the discipline system but particularly to be out-of-school suspended.”

The bill will go into effect September 1, 2017.

This story originally appeared June 21, 2017 on FOX 4.

Advocates Celebrate Passage of Legislation Limiting School Suspensions

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DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF) – State Representative Eric Johnson joined local education advocates Wednesday, at his former Dallas elementary school, to celebrate passage of HB 674 which he authored. The bill limits out-of-school suspensions for students in pre-kindergarten through the second grade.

“A school district can not allow students below third grade to be suspended out of school for something other than extreme violence, assault, or carrying weapons to school,” said Johnson.

Rep. Johnson said academic studies have shown that young children who are expelled or suspended from school are more likely to drop out of school, face incarceration and repeat grades than students who do not face classroom removal during early childhood.

“We have a better chance of avoiding incarceration if we work on correcting behavior,” said Johnson. “Other than punishing them and their families by telling them to go home.”

He said HB 674 seeks to prevent the criminalization of young children, particularly young children of color and children with disabilities. A similar policy was passed locally by Dallas ISD in February. The Texas Organizing Project, Texas Appleseed, and the ALCU helped Johnson support the bill.

This story originally appeared June 21, 2017 on WBAP 850 AM.

TOP Statement on 7-year-old boy being handcuffed & 12-year-old girl being body-slammed by Dallas ISD police at school

Kid in handcuffs

The following statement was made by Allison Brim, education campaign director of the Texas Organizing Project and a Dallas ISD mother, in response to viral videos showing the appalling mistreatment of two DISD students by district police:

“Schools should be a nurturing, safe space for our students. We trust when we send our children to school that they will be protected and treated with kindness and consideration.

“That’s why seeing the treatment this girl and boy received at the hands of police at DISD schools is shocking and sad. Incidents like these are, unfortunately, not isolated or infrequent.

“They are a byproduct of an over-policing of our public schools, a frightening trend that criminalizes students, particular students of color, and funnels them into the pipeline to prison. This must stop.

“Earlier this year, TOP, Texas Appleseed, and ACLU of Texas were instrumental in championing a policy authored by Trustee Miguel Solis that will equip school staff with the skills needed to correct behavior and teach students healthy ways of dealing with the root causes of their acting out, instead of just kicking young kids out of class and disciplining them in ways that harm and dehumanize them.

“TOP demands that Dallas ISD trustees and Superintendent Hinojosa get to the bottom of this and hold staff accountable to ensure that disturbing incidents like these do not happen in the future. The district’s parents and students deserve better.”

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Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Brown communities in Texas’ three largest counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.