A bill aimed at preventing students from languishing in alternative schools is on its way to the governor, after passing its last hurdle in the Legislature on Tuesday.
County-run community schools and district-run community day schools are meant to be a temporary rehabilitative placement for expelled and truant students, not a permanent placement, said supporters of Senate Bill 744, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach. Yet students and families say they often are kept in the schools for extended periods of time without clear guidelines for returning to traditional campuses.
The bill would revise current law to provide a number of safeguards against the misuse of these schools. Some of those safeguards include:
- Limiting the kind of probation referrals that would require placement in those schools.
- Barring schools from sending homeless children to them.
- Ensuring that the pupil’s educational needs are met, that parents don’t object to the placement, and that the school is located close enough to the student’s home to be reasonably accessible.
- Setting a timeline for when students can return to their previous school.
- Giving pupils who are expelled but then found to be innocent of the charges the right to return to their previous school.
- Allowing only the school board that expelled a student to be able to extend the time the student spends in an alternative school.