News Update

California bill would ban ‘willful defiance’ suspensions in all grades

East Bay State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced a bill Wednesday that would eliminate suspensions for defying teachers and school staff or disrupting school activities — known as “willful defiance” suspensions — for all public school students by Fall 2024.

Studies show that willful defiance suspensions disproportionately impact Black male students in California, and increase the likelihood of students dropping out of school.

“SB 274 puts the needs of students first,” Skinner said in a news release. “Instead of kicking them out of school, we owe it to students to figure out what’s causing them to act out and help them fix it.”

Legislation from 2019 had already permanently banned willful defiance suspensions for students in kindergarten through 5th grade, and banned them for grades 6-8 until 2025. Los Angeles Unified, Oakland Unified, San Francisco Unified and other districts have banned the practice over the past decade.

SB 274 would apply to all grades TK through 12 in both traditional public schools and charters. The bill would also prohibit schools from suspending or expelling students for being tardy or truant, according to the news release.