Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Saturday that would have required greater transparency from districts about the process of involuntarily transferring expelled students, and other students, to alternative schools and the process for allowing those students to return to regular schools.
Senate Bill 744, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, called for school districts to develop a clear set of requirements that expelled students must meet and set a timeline for when students can return to regular school. The bill was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, Public Counsel, Children Now Legal Services for Children, Youth Justice Coalition and the Youth Law Center.
“Governor Brown has allowed an important opportunity to increase fairness in our state’s education system to slip away,” said Jory Steele, director of education equity for the ACLU of Northern California, in a statement. “Unfortunately, many students across the state will remain vulnerable to wrongful involuntary transfers, which contribute to the unfair push-out of students, especially students of color.”
Testifying in favor of the bill in May, a youth told the state Senate Education Committee that after being transferred to an alternative school before eighth grade graduation, he completed in one summer all of the requirements set by his district, including drug and alcohol counseling classes, 140 hours of community service, and an anger management class. Still, he was not allowed to enter his regular high school.
In his veto message, Brown said he did not sign the bill because it imposes “new and rather specific requirements on the way local schools handle disruptive students.” He stated his faith that the new state education finance system, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, had created “a new regime of greater equity and increased accountability at the local level” that would provide a new forum for community members and districts to negotiate school priorities and policies around discipline.
“I am putting my trust in the skill and good faith of local educators to manage the issues that are the subject of this bill in a caring and responsible way,” Brown said.