Last month, we covered Senate Bill 607, as it relates to juvenile justice in California. The bill – authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – would have expanded a bill signed into law in 2014 banning the suspension of students in grades K-3 for acts of “disruption and defiance.” Sen. Skinner’s proposal had the expressed aim of changing the law to include students through the 8th grade.
Earlier this month, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 607, EdSource reports. While it was unclear if Brown would get on onboard, considering he was opposed to legislation in 2012 that would have banned such suspensions for grades K-12, he showed this month that he would not be swayed. Gov. Brown states that local control is his main reason for rejecting the bill, just as it was in 2012.
Senator Skinner sensed that Brown would come out against her measure much like the Association of California School Administrators and the California School Boards Association. So, she wrote SB-607 to include K-8 rather than K-12, to get the support of the organizations above, hoping it would be enough for Brown as well.
“Teachers and principals are on the front lines of educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classrooms,” said Brown, in the veto message.
Civil Rights Advocates Are Not Surprised
Kids – as everyone knows – can be unruly; punitive measures are one way to teach young people the difference between right and wrong. However, there is a significant body of evidence suggesting that “disruption and defiance” suspensions affect students of color and those with disabilities, disproportionately.
A report from UCLA’s Center for Civil Rights Remedies shows that African-American middle-schoolers lost 71 days per 100 students, almost four times the number of days of class missed by their white classmates. When students miss class frequently, they are far more likely to get in other – more severe – types of trouble. Suspension and expulsion are often the catalysts of the school-to-prison pipeline. The California Department of Education CALPADS Data, 2016-17, shows that black and brown boys were 53.3% of disruption/defiance suspensions in the 2016-17 school year, despite making up only 30.7% of CA students.
Bills like SB-607 and its predecessor are meant to force the hand of educators to utilize disciplinary measures that did not take students out of class for minor infractions, before they resort to harsher courses of action. Despite being at odds with Gov. Brown’s decision, youth and civil rights advocates are not surprised, according to the article. Moreover, they are, in a word, disappointed!
“[Brown] has rejected an opportunity to transform school climate and address a racial injustice in our schools statewide,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for Children’s Defense Fund, California. Senator Skinner has not committed to introducing a new bill next year.
Juvenile Defense in California
Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if you require the assistance of an Orange County school expulsion lawyer. Attorney Walsh has overseen thousands of juvenile cases in California. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Katie Walsh can advocate for your family.