California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new law on Monday which permanently bans public and charter school officials from suspending students for “willful defiance.” The bill eliminates suspensions for behaviors including disrupting class, falling asleep in class or willfully defying teachers.
Under the new state law, teachers will still be allowed to suspend students from their classrooms for up to two days for disrupting behaviors. More importantly, the student would have to remain in school during the suspension. The “in-school” suspension allows the student to remain under school supervision. Also, they will possibly participate in school activities that address the behavior which caused removal from their classroom.
Senate Bill 419 was authored by state Senator Nancy Skinner. This bill applies to all elementary grades (K-5) beginning July 1, 2020. Also, for a five-year trial period, this bill applies to middle school grades (6-8).
Several of the state’s largest districts already have programs that ban the use of willful defiance suspensions. This includes San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles Unified. Additionally, recent studies have found that lower suspension rates are correlated with higher academic achievement.
California banned willful defiance suspensions for students up to third grade in 2015 under former Gov. Jerry Brown. As a result, suspensions fell by 30,000 in the first year.
Those in support of the law believe this addresses equity in schools across the state which shows disproportionate suspension rates for minority students. Most importantly, eliminating the school to prison pipeline is the ultimate goal for Bill 419 supporters.
For more information, visit the SB-419 Pupil Discipline Bill.