Three student discipline bills are under consideration by the General Assembly. Senate Bills 995 – 997 (Stanley) and House Bills 1534-1536 (R. Bell). The legislation limits local schools ability to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment.
The effects include prohibiting long-term suspensions. In 2014-2015, only two-tenths of one percent (0.22 percent) of students received a long-term suspension. Local school boards use these options sparingly. The students and parents are provided a hearing to ensure due process in each instance.
The legislation targets a nonexistent problem, and is unfair to the other 99.88 percent of students. To be clear, suspensions are not expulsions. One likely unintended consequence of this legislation will be more expulsions across the state.
Other parts of the measures restrict discipline options in the lower grades regardless of the seriousness of the offense or egregiousness of the disruptive behavior. We do not need a one-size-fits-all limit to substitute for the judgment of those closest to the situation. The legislation does not consider the well being of the other young students.
These bills, while sponsored by Republicans, are classic top-down mandates to which state and local officials regularly object. They will restrict our local schools ability to provide a safe learning environment for the children of Radford.