SB-607: Pupil discipline: suspensions and expulsions: willful defiance

Session: 2017-2018
Author: Skinner
Status: Vetoed
AAP-CA Position: Support
To view the status of this bill on the State Website, click here.

Current law prohibits the suspension of a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 3, inclusive, and recommending the expulsion of a pupil enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 12, inclusive, for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of those school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. Current law makes these prohibitions inoperative on July 1, 2018. This bill would make those provisions indefinitely applicable to pupils enrolled in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 5, inclusive, and, with respect to pupils enrolled in grades 6 to 12, inclusive, would make those provisions applicable until July 1, 2023.

Veto Message:

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 607 without my signature.

Teachers and principals are on the front lines educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classroom. That’s why I vetoed a similar bill in 2012. In addition, I just approved $15 million in the 2018 Budget Act to help local schools improve their disciplinary practices. Let’s give educators a chance to invest that money wisely before issuing any further directives from the state.

Sincerely,

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

AAP Positional Letter



April 2, 2018

Honorable Nancy Skinner
State Capitol, Room 2059
Sacramento,  CA 95814

RE: SB 607 (Skinner): Pupil discipline: suspensions and expulsions: willful defiance
AAP-CA Position: Support

Dear Senator Skinner:

The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, supports your proposed legislation SB 607 (Skinner), which would make indefinite the prohibition on the suspension or recommendation for expulsion of any pupil in kindergarten through grade 5, and would prohibit until 2023 the suspension or recommendation for expulsion of any pupil in grades 6 through 12, for the reason of disrupting school activities or defying authority. It would also extend these regulations to include charter schools.

According to the AAP Policy Statement on Out-of-School Suspension and Expulsion, “The AAP maintains that out-of-school suspension and expulsion are counterproductive to the intended goals, rarely if ever are necessary, and should not be considered as appropriate discipline in any but the most extreme and dangerous circumstances.” These circumstances clearly do not include simple disruptive behavior, which are best dealt with using in-school disciplinary action and counseling. Disruptive behavior in-school often is the result of difficulties at home which may not be apparent at first glance, and it is counterproductive to discipline the child by sending them back to the same, possibly hostile environment that is encouraging their acting-out. Moreover, research has demonstrated that students expelled from school are 10 times more likely to drop out of school before completing high school—an incredible loss whose effects are felt not only by the student in question, but by society as a whole.

SB 607 (Skinner) would reduce the burden on children and youth with difficult home environments and undiagnosed mental health and behavioral issues by barring the practice of out-of-school suspension and expulsion for the simple offenses of disruptive behavior or defiance of authority for our youngest children and temporarily ending it for older children and youth, thus encouraging alternate means of discipline.

Pediatrician members of AAP California Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 across the state strongly support your proposed legislation SB 607 (Skinner). Thank you for your public service and leadership on behalf of the health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families in California.

Sincerely,

Kris Calvin
Chief Executive Officer, American Academy of Pediatrics, California

cc: AAP-CA Leadership; Lobbyist Lydia Bourne