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.

Texas Organizing Project parent leaders & their allies are victorious: Dallas ISD passes policy change to replace suspensions with solutions

Suspensions

The following statement was made by Chastity Masters, a parent leader with Texas Organizing Project’s education campaign and a Dallas ISD mother, in response to Dallas ISD trustees passing policy that will replace suspensions with research-based solutions to student discipline for children in pre-k through the second grade:

“Last night, Dallas ISD school board trustees rightfully stood on the side of justice and equity by passing policy to replace suspensions with real solutions to keep our youngest students in the classroom learning, rather than pushing them out of school, marking a significant win for families like mine.

“I’ll never forget when my four-year-old daughter Aaniyah was suspended from her elementary school in South Dallas nine years ago. She was only in pre-k when she received out-of-school suspension after a misunderstanding with one of her classmates. I remember thinking that there had to be a better way to correct her behavior than throwing her out of the classroom, keeping her from learning and being with her classmates. This never seemed right to me, so a few years later I joined other parents with the Texas Organizing Project to change the way our schools do student discipline.

“After taking a look at districtwide data, I was alarmed to find that in a district of 228 schools, out of school suspensions are on the rise for young students like Aaniyah, and about 54 percent of those went to Black boys, a disproportionate burden.

“That’s why I thank Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis for introducing this proposal that will equip teachers 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 doling out school suspensions for our youngest kids. TOP parent leaders and our partners, including Texas Appleseed, the ACLU, Faith in Texas, CitySquare, the NAACP, and LULAC have been pushing for a change like this for years. This victory was a long time coming, and we look forward to building off of it to further curb the district’s pipeline to prison that keeps too many students from excelling in life.”

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The Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a membership-based organization, works to build power through community organizing and civic engagement. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.