A new bill proposed by state Sen. Nancy Skinner would ban out-of-school suspensions in all grades for student behavior deemed “defiant and disruptive” by school authorities. Advocates hopeful Gov. Newsom will be more receptive than Jerry Brown, who vetoed two previous bills.
A 2010 video clip of California senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris advocating the prosecution of parents for their children's truancy has re-ignited controversy as schools statewide face greater scrutiny for their rates of chronic absenteeism.
Behind the high suspension rates in rural areas are family struggles with poverty, mental illness, addiction and parental incarceration, a dearth of resources to address those needs and underfunded schools.
The report strongly recommended rescinding the Obama policies that both emphasized alternatives to suspensions and expulsions and highlighted data showing that students of color and those with disabilities were more likely than white students to face these punishments.
Brown's decision is a bitter disappointment for youth and civil rights advocates who have made eliminating suspensions for "disruption and defiance," which are disproportionately meted out to students of color, a priority.
Instruction days lost to suspensions dropped nearly by half from 2011-12 to 2016-17, according to a new report. But African American and Native American students -- and students with disabilities -- are still suspended at disproportionately high rates.
The report, based on federal government data from 2015-16, also found that racial disparities in suspensions remain an acute problem. Nationwide, African-American students lost five times as many days as white students.