BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                          SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                              Alan Lowenthal, Chair
                            2011-2012 Regular Session
                                         

          BILL NO:       AB 1729
          AUTHOR:        Ammiano
          AMENDED:       May 25, 2012
          FISCAL COMM:   No             HEARING DATE: June 27, 2012
          URGENCY:       No             CONSULTANT:Lynn Lorber

           SUBJECT  :  Pupil suspension.
          
           SUMMARY
           
          This bill recasts provisions relative to the suspension of a 
          pupil upon a first offense, and authorizes the use and 
          documentation of other means of correction.

           BACKGROUND
           
          Current law prohibits a pupil from being suspended or 
          recommended for expulsion unless the principal of the school 
          determines that the pupil has committed certain acts, and 
          gives schools the discretion to take action for most 
          offenses.  (Education Code  48900)

           Discretion to suspend

           Schools may suspend a pupil for violating any number of acts, 
          some of which include:

          1)   Attempting to cause or threatening to cause physical 
               injury to another person.  (Expulsion must be 
               recommended for causing serious physical injury.)  (EC  
               48915))

          2)   Being under the influence of a controlled substance.  
               (Expulsion must be recommended for possession or the 
               sale of controlled substances.)  
               (EC  48915)

          3)   Caused or attempted to cause damage to school property.

          4)   Possessed or used tobacco.

          5)   Committed an obscene act or engaged in habitual 







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               profanity or vulgarity.

          6)   Possessed, offered, arranged or negotiated to sell drug 
               paraphernalia.

          7)   Engaged in, or attempted to engage in, hazing.

          8)   Disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully 
               defying the valid authority of supervisor, teachers, 
               administrators, school officials, or other school 
               personnel engaged in the performance of their duties. 
          9)   Engaged in an act of bullying.  (EC  48900,  48900.2, 
                48900.3, 
                48900.4,  48900.7)

          Pupils may be suspended for a first offense if the school 
          principal determines that the pupil committed certain acts or 
          that pupil's presence causes a danger to persons or property 
          or threatens to disrupt the instructional process or the 
          pupil committed certain acts.  (EC  48900.5)

           Prior to suspension

           Current law states that suspension shall be imposed only when 
          other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. 
           (EC  48900.5)

          Suspension by the principal must be preceded by an informal 
          conference between the principal, pupil and whenever 
          practicable, the teacher, supervisor or school employee who 
          referred the pupil to the principal.  School principals may 
          suspend a pupil without first holding an informal conference 
          with the pupil if an emergency situation exists.  A school 
          employee is required to make a reasonable effort to contact 
          the pupil's parents at the time of suspension; however, 
          whenever a pupil is suspended from school (as opposed to 
          suspension from a class) the parent must be notified in 
          writing.  (EC  48911)

           Decision to suspend

           The governing board of a school district is required, unless 
          a request has been made to the contrary, to hold closed 
          sessions if the board is considering suspending or taking 







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          other disciplinary action (other than expulsion) if a public 
          hearing would lead to the release of confidential 
          information.  School districts are required to notify, in 
          writing, the pupil and the pupil's parent of the intent to 
          call and hold a closed session.  (EC  48912)

           Alternatives to out-of-school suspension

           School district superintendents and school principals are 
          authorized to use discretion to provide alternatives to 
          suspension or expulsion, including counseling and an anger 
          management program.  (EC  48900(v))

          School principals are authorized to assign a suspended pupil 
          to a supervised suspension classroom for the entire period of 
          suspension if the pupil poses no imminent danger or threat to 
          the campus, pupils, or staff, or if an action to expel the 
          pupil has not been initiated.  (EC  48911.1)

          Current law states that schools should consider implementing 
          at least one of the following if the number of pupils 
          suspended during the prior school year exceeded 30% of the 
          school's enrollment:

          1)   A supervised suspension program.

          2)   A progressive discipline approach during the schoolday 
               on campus (as an alternative to off-campus suspension), 
               using any of the following activities:
               a)        Conferences between the school staff, parents 
                    and pupils.

               b)        Referral to the school counselor, 
                    psychologist, child welfare, attendance personnel, 
                    or other school support service staff.

               c)        Detention.

               d)        Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel 
                    teams, or other assessment-related teams.  (EC  
                    48911.2)

          Teachers may suspend pupils from class for the day and the 
          following day.  If the pupil is to remain on campus during 







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          that suspension, the pupil must be under appropriate 
          supervision.  Teachers must ask the parent to attend a 
          parent-teacher conference regarding the suspension.  Pupils 
          are prohibited from returning to the class from which he or 
          she was suspended, during the period of the suspension, 
          without the concurrence of the teacher and principal. 
          (EC  48910)
          Schools are authorized to require a pupil to perform 
          community service as part of or instead of suspension or 
          expulsion for most offenses.  (EC  48900.6)

           Missed assignments

           The teacher of any class from which a pupil is suspended is 
          authorized to require the pupil to complete any assignments 
          and tests missed during the suspension.  (EC  48913)

           Number of days of suspension

           The number of days that a pupil may be suspended from school 
          is capped at five consecutive schooldays.  (EC  48911)

          With some exception, the total number of days for which a 
          pupil may be suspended is capped at 20 schooldays per school 
          year, unless the pupil enrolls in or is transferred to 
          another regular school, an opportunity school or a 
          continuation school, in which case the cap is 30 schooldays 
          per school year.  School districts are authorized to count 
          suspensions that occur while a pupil is enrolled in another 
          school district toward the maximum numbers of days for which 
          a pupil may be suspended in any school year.  (EC  48903)

          In cases where expulsion from any school or suspension for 
          the remainder of the semester from continuation schools is 
          being processed by a school district, the district 
          superintendent may extend the suspension until the governing 
          board has rendered a decision.  (EC  48911(g))

           Pupils with exceptional needs

           Schools are authorized to suspend or expel an individual with 
          exceptional needs in accordance with federal law.  If a pupil 
          with an individualized education program (IEP) exhibits 
          behavior problems, the IEP team must make a determination if 







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          the behavior is a manifestation of the disability and whether 
          the strategies in the IEP are effective to address the 
          behavior.  If it is determined that the IEP is ineffective, a 
          functional analysis is then amended to include a behavior 
          intervention plan.  (EC  48915.5,  56523, and California 
          Code of Regulations Title 5,  3052)  

           ANALYSIS
           
           This bill  recasts provisions relative to the suspension of a 
          pupil upon a first offense, and authorizes the use and 
          documentation of other means of correction.  Specifically, 
          this bill:

          1)   Removes the consideration of whether the pupil's 
               presence is a danger to property or threatens to disrupt 
               the instructional process when a school principal is 
               determining whether to suspend a pupil upon a first 
               offense.  (Discretion remains to suspend upon a first 
               offense if the principal determines the pupil's presence 
               is a danger to people.)

          2)   Specifies that the existing limitation on imposing 
               suspension only when other means of correction fail also 
               includes supervised suspension (in-school suspension). 

          3)   Authorizes school districts to document other corrective 
               action used and place that documentation in the pupil's 
               record. 


          4)   Authorizes other means of correction to include:

                    a)             A conference between school 
                    personnel, the pupil's parent or guardian, and the 
                    pupil.

                    b)             Referrals to the school counselor, 
                    psychologist, social worker, child welfare 
                    attendance personnel, or other school support 
                    personnel for case management and counseling.

                    c)             Study teams, guidance teams, 
                    resource panel teams, or other intervention-related 







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                    teams that assess the behavior, and develop and 
                    implement individualized plans to address the 
                    behavior in partnership with the pupil and his or 
                    her parents.

                    d)             Referral for a comprehensive 
                    psychosocial or psychoeducational assessment, 
                    including for purposes of creating an 
                    individualized education program (IEP or a 504 
                    plan).

                    e)             Enrollment in a program for teaching 
                    prosocial behavior or anger management.
                    f)             Participation in a restorative 
                    justice program.

                    g)             A positive behavior support approach 
                    with tiered interventions that occur during the 
                    schoolday on campus.

                    h)             After school programs that address 
                    specific behavioral issues or expose pupils to 
                    positive activities and behaviors, including those 
                    operated in collaboration with local parent and 
                    community groups.

                    i)             Community services, as described in 
                    current law.

          5)   Recasts options that may be considered as alternatives 
               to suspension or expulsion, by striking reference to 
               counseling and anger management, and replacing with 
               alternatives that are age appropriate and designed to 
               address and correct the pupil's specific misbehavior.

          6)   Makes legislative findings and declarations that it is 
               state policy to:

                    a)             Ensure that school discipline 
                    policies and practices support the creation of 
                    safe, positive, supportive, and equitable school 
                    environments where pupils can learn.

                    b)             Provide effective interventions for 







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                    pupils who engage in acts of problematic behavior 
                    to help them change their behavior and avoid 
                    exclusion from school.

                    c)             Ensure that school discipline 
                    policies and practices are implemented and enforced 
                    evenhandedly and are not disproportionately applied 
                    to any class or group of pupils.

           STAFF COMMENTS
           
           1)   Need for the bill  .  According to the author, 
               "Superintendents and principals deal with discipline 
               almost exclusively through suspension or expulsion 
               despite research which correlates exclusionary 
               discipline with lower academic achievement, lower 
               graduation rates and increased pupil dropout rates - all 
               without making campuses safer.  Current law requires 
               that 'other means of correction' fail before a student 
               is suspended for a non-mandatory reason.  Schools are 
               not required to document these efforts, making it 
               difficult to discern what is most effective or even what 
               has previously been attempted prior to expulsion or 
               suspension.  These ineffective policies 
               disproportionately affect our state's most vulnerable 
               populations, especially black males and students with 
               disabilities; and leads to disproportionate rates of 
               involvement in the juvenile justice system, and later 
               adult incarceration."

           2)   Suspension upon first offense  .  Current law requires 
               schools to impose other means of correction prior to 
               suspension.  However, current law authorizes schools to 
               suspend a pupil upon the first offense of certain 
               serious acts (such as causing physical injury, or 
               selling a weapon or drugs) or for any act (for which 
               schools have the discretion to suspend) if the principal 
               or superintendent determines that the pupil's presence 
               causes a danger to persons or property or threatens to 
               disrupt the instructional process.  This bill removes 
               the consideration of whether a pupil is a danger to 
               property or threatens to disrupt the instructional 
               process when a school principal is determining whether 
               to suspend a pupil upon a first offense.  Schools would 







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               retain the ability to suspend a pupil upon the first 
               offense for acts such as defiance or willful disruption 
               if the principal determines the pupil's presence poses a 
               danger to people.

           3)   Other means of correction  .  Current law states that 
               suspension is to be imposed only when other means of 
               correction fail to bring about proper conduct.  
               Suspension by the principal must be preceded by an 
               informal conference between the principal, pupil and 
               whenever practicable, the teacher, supervisor or school 
               employee who referred the pupil to the principal, unless 
               an emergency situation exists.  Schools are currently 
               authorized to use discretion to provide alternatives to 
               suspension or expulsion, and should consider 
               implementing alternatives to suspension if the number of 
               pupils suspended during the prior school year exceeded 
               30% of the school's enrollment.  This bill specifies 
               activities that may be used as alternatives to 
               suspension and authorizes schools to document those 
               activities in a pupil's record.

           4)   Discretion  .  Current law grants the discretion to school 
               principals to suspend pupils for approximately twenty 
               acts.  Current law requires suspension to be imposed 
               only when other means of correction fail to bring about 
               proper conduct.  Current law provides an exception that 
               gives school principals the discretion to suspend a 
               pupil upon a first offense if the principal determines 
               the pupil's presence causes a danger to persons or 
               property or threatens to disrupt the instructional 
               process.  This bill removes from that determination 
               consideration of whether the pupil's presence is a 
               danger to property or threatens to disrupt the 
               instructional process.  Discretion remains to suspend 
               upon a first offense if the principal determines the 
               pupil's presence is a danger to people.

          5)   Capacity  .  Implementation of alternative means of 
               correction could include the need for staff training, 
               school counselors and psychologists, staff to supervise 
               pupils who serve in-school suspensions and classrooms to 
               house pupils who serve in-school suspensions.  This bill 
               does not require schools to use alternative means of 







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               correction. 

           6)   Los Angeles Unified School District  .  On October 11, 
               2011, it was announced that the Los Angeles Unified 
               School District (LAUSD) entered into a voluntary 
               agreement with the federal Department of Education's 
               Office of Civil Rights. Under the agreement, LAUSD will 
               revamp its entire program for English learners and 
               accelerate its efforts focused on closing the 
               achievement and opportunity gap for African-American 
               pupils.  As part of the agreement, LAUSD is to take 
               steps to report disparate discipline rates, and 
               eliminate inequitable and disproportionate discipline 
               practices.

           7)   Related legislation  .  SB 1088 (Price) requires school 
               districts to conduct a second review for the readmission 
               of pupils who have been expelled and denied readmission, 
               and prohibits school from denying enrollment or 
               readmission to pupils solely on the basis that he or she 
               has had contact with the juvenile justice system.  SB 
               1088 is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Education 
               Committee on June 27.

          SB 1235 (Steinberg) requires schools that have suspended more 
               than 25% of the school's enrollment or more than 25% of 
               any numerically significant racial or ethnic subgroup of 
               the school's enrollment in the prior school year to 
               implement, for at least three years, at least one 
               specified strategies to reduce the suspension rate or 
               disproportionality.  SB 1235 is scheduled to be heard by 
               the Assembly Education Committee on June 27.

          AB 1732 (Campos) identifies conduct that would constitute a 
               post on a social media website, relative to 
               cyberbullying.  AB 1732 is pending on the Senate Floor.

          AB 1909 (Ammiano) requires schools to notify a foster youth's 
               attorney and representative of the county child welfare 
               agency of pending expulsion or other disciplinary 
               proceedings.  AB 1909 is scheduled to be heard by the 
               Senate Human Services Committee on June 26, 2012.

          AB 2032 (Mendoza) requires charter schools to be subject to 







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               the same suspension and expulsion provisions as other 
               public schools.  AB 2032 was held on the Assembly 
               Appropriations Committee's suspense file.

          AB 2145 (Alejo) requires the California Department of 
               Education to disaggregate and report data related to 
               referrals to a school attendance review board and post 
               disaggregated expulsion and suspension data on its 
               website, and requires schools districts to maintain data 
               relative to expended suspensions.   AB 2145 is scheduled 
               to be heard by this Committee on June 27, 2012.

          AB 2242 (Dickinson) prohibits pupils who are found to have 
               disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully 
               defied the authority of school officials from being 
               subject to extended suspension or recommended for 
               expulsion.  AB 2242 is scheduled to be heard by this 
               Committee on June 27, 2012.

          AB 2300 (Swanson) requires school districts to expunge from a 
               pupil's records a suspension for certain acts if the 
               pupil completes five hours of community service.  AB 
               2300 was held on the Assembly Appropriations Committee's 
               suspense file.

               AB 2537 (V. Manuel Perez) grants discretion to school 
               principals to make a determination of the 
               appropriateness of the expulsion of a pupil who has 
               unlawfully sold a controlled substance, and makes other 
               changes relative to mandatory expulsions.  AB 2537 is 
               scheduled to be heard by this Committee on June 27, 
               2012.




               AB 2616 (Carter) creates a new option for the first time 
               a truancy report is issued, shifts the existing 
               consequences for the first truancy to the second 
               truancy, and eliminates the mandate that a pupil found 
               truant for the fourth time in one school year be 
               referred to the juvenile court.  AB 2616 is scheduled to 
               be heard by this Committee on June 27, 2012.








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           SUPPORT
           
          Advancement Project
          American Civil Liberties Union
          Black Organizing Project
          Black Parallel School Board
          California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy
          California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
          California State Conference of the National Association for 
          the Advancement of 
               Colored People
          Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice
          Children Now
          Children's Defense Fund-California
          Community Asset Development Re-Defining Education
          Community Coalition
          Disability Rights California
          Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
          Disability Rights Legal Center
          Fight Crime: Invest in Kids
          Gay-Straight Alliance Network
          InnerCity Struggle
          Labor/Community Strategy Center
          Legal Advocates for Children & Youth
          Legal Services for Children
          Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
          Los Angeles Unified School District
          Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
          National Center for Youth Law
          Northern California Association of Counsel for Children
          PICO California
          PolicyLink
          Public Counsel
          Restorative Schools Vision Project
          Youth & Education Law Project, Mills Legal Clinic
          Youth Justice Coalition
          Youth Law Center

          An individual

           OPPOSITION

           California County Superintendents Educational Services








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