civil rights
in-school suspension
August 20, 2013

Questioning School Suspension


Shelby: You all know that getting suspended can have serious consequences. But are school rules too strict? Scott Evans tells us why one state wants to cut back on suspensions.

Teen: One person I know who got suspended for talking too much in class, being a distraction.

Teen: Usually the teachers just take away their phone or take off their hat.

Scott: Few would argue that it is up to teachers to do their best to keep order and discipline in the classroom to help all students learn. But sometimes teachers have to deal with what is called ‘willfully defiant behavior,’ or when a student isn’t behaving violently but is disrupting the classroom.

Jennifer Thomas: Refusal to follow the dress code; a refusal to put away activities not related to class; a refusal to stop texting or to stop using the phone.

Scott: Now California teachers could suspend a student for things like that, but maybe not for long. Under a proposed new law called AB 420, elementary school students could no longer be suspended for willful defiance. And students in middle and high school could only be suspended after the third offense and after other disciplinary action had been taken.

Reverend Jeff Moore: Teachers have bad days. Students have bad days.

Scott: Reverend Jeff Moore of the San Jose NAACP, a civil rights group, says school data shows African-American and Latino students are suspended for willful defiance more often than students of other races. He supports the bill, which could potentially cut suspensions in California in half. Willful defiance accounted for nearly half of the 710,000 suspensions issued in California during the 2011-2012 school year.

Reverend Moore: Suspending them does not help them; it keeps them home. They get further behind in school and, normally, they take friends with them.

Scott: Some parents say there needs to be more of a compromise.

Brad Kraten: I mean, I think that kids should be disciplined, but I think something…getting kicked out of class for something like not taking a hat off is a little bit harsh.

Scott: As for the California Teachers Association? So far, they are neutral on the bill. Many say it is about finding a balance and figuring out what teachers will be able to do when dealing with disruptive students.

Thomas: Teachers really do need to understand how to help children who we see are increasingly becoming more defiant.

Teen: The teacher should probably just have a talk with him and explain to him why it’s not right, and make sure he really gets the message.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.

Shelby: The bill still needs to pass the state senate, and it is one that many other states are watching closely because they are thinking about passing similar measures.


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