BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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          Date of Hearing:   April 17, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                Joan Buchanan, Chair
                   AB 420 (Dickinson) - As Amended:  April 10, 2013
          SUBJECT  :   Pupil discipline: suspensions: willful defiance

           SUMMARY  :  Removes disrupting school activities or otherwise  
          willfully defying the valid authority of supervisors, teachers,  
          administrators, school officials, or other school personnel as a  
          reason to suspend or recommend for expulsion, any pupil in  
          kindergarten through grade 5.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Specifies that a pupil enrolled in grades 6 through 12 may be  
            suspended from school on or after the third time in a school  
            year for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully  
            defying the valid authority of supervisors, teachers,  
            administrators, school officials, or other school personnel,  
            provided other means of correction were attempted before the  
            recommendation to suspend.  

          2)Specifies that disrupting school activities or otherwise  
            willfully defying the valid authority of supervisors,  
            teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school  
            personnel engaged in the performance of their duties shall not  
            constitute grounds for a pupil to be recommended for  

          3)Expresses the intent of the Legislature to minimize the  
            excessive use of willful defiance as a reason to impose  
            in-school and off-campus removals and to encourage schools to  
            instead prioritize and use alternative means of correction.

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Provides that a pupil may be suspended or expelled for  
            committing any of the following offenses:

             a)   Causing, attempting to cause, or threatening to cause  
               physical injury to another person; or willfully using force  
               or violence upon another person, except in self-defense;
             b)   Possessing, selling, or otherwise furnishing a firearm,  
               knife, explosive, or other dangerous object;
             c)   Unlawfully possessing, using, selling or otherwise  


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               furnishing a controlled substance;
             d)   Unlawfully offering, arranging or negotiating to sell a  
               controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or an intoxicant  
               of any kind;
             e)   Committing or attempting to commit robbery or extortion;
             f)   Causing or attempting to cause damage to school property  
               or private property;
             g)   Stealing or attempting to steal school property or  
               private property;
             h)   Possessing or using tobacco, or products containing  
               tobacco or nicotine products;
             i)   Committing an obscene act or engaging in habitual  
               profanity or vulgarity;
             j)   Unlawfully possessing or unlawfully offering, arranging  
               or negotiating to sell drug paraphernalia;
             aa)  Disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully  
               defying the authority of supervisors, teachers,  
               administrators, school officials or other school personnel  
               engaged in the performance of their duties;
             bb)  Knowingly receive stolen school property or private  
             cc)  Possessing an imitation firearm;
             dd)  Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or  
               sexual battery;
             ee)  Harassing, threatening or intimidating a pupil who is a  
               complaining witness or a witness in a school disciplinary  
               proceeding in order to prevent the pupil from being a  
               witness or retaliating against that pupil for being a  
               witness, or both;
             ff)  Unlawfully offering, arranging to sell, or negotiating  
               to sell the prescription drug Soma;
             gg)  Engaging in or attempting to engage in hazing;
             hh)  Engaging in the act of bullying, including, but not  
               limited to, bullying committed by means of an electronic  
             ii)  Committing sexual harassment (grades 4 through 12 only);
             jj)  Causing or attempting to cause, threatening to cause, or  
               participating in an act of hate violence (grades 4 through  
               12 only); 
             aaa) Engaging in harassment, threats, or intimidation against  
               school district personnel or pupils that have the effect of  
               disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder and  
               invading the rights of either school personnel or pupils by  
               creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment  
               (grades 4 through 12 only); and,


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             bbb) Making a terroristic threat against school officials or  
               school property, or both.  (Education Code (EC) Sections  
               48900, 48900.2, 48900.3, 48900.4, 48900.7)

          2)Provides that a suspension shall only be imposed when other  
            means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct.   
            Specifies that other means of correction may include, but are  
            not limited to, the following:

             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 service personnel for case management and  
             c)   Study teams, guidance teams, resource panel teams, or  
               other intervention-related teams that assess the behavior,  
               and develop and implement individualized plans to address  
               the behavior in partnership with the pupil and his or her  
             d)   Referral for a comprehensive psychosocial or  
               psychoeducational assessment;
             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.  (EC Section 48900.5)

          3)Authorizes a principal or superintendent to require a pupil to  
            perform community service on school grounds, or with written  
            permission of the parents or guardians, off school grounds,  
            during the pupil's nonschool hours as part of or instead of  
            disciplinary action.  (EC Section 48900.6)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Legislative Counsel, this bill  
          is non-fiscal.  However, the Assembly Committee on Rules has  
          determined that there is potential fiscal effect and has  
          referred the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee upon  
          passage from this Committee.  

           COMMENTS  :  A University of California, Los Angeles' Civil Rights  


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          Project October 2011 brief titled "Discipline Policies,  
          Successful Schools, and Racial Justice," report that data  
          gathered by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil  
          Rights shows disparity in suspensions and expulsions for Black  
          students, especially males, and students with disabilities.  An  
          analysis of data collected in 2006 shows that 28% of Black male  
          middle school students were suspended at least once, while the  
          rate was 10% for white males.  The report argues that  
          disciplinary actions that result in exclusion from school cause  
          students to miss important instructional time and may result in  
          a "greater risk of disengagement and diminished educational  

          Research also shows that students with frequent suspensions are  
          at greater risk of becoming involved in gangs, dropping out of  
          school and becoming a part of the juvenile justice system.   
          Efforts undertaken by districts in California, including the Los  
          Angeles Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School  
          District, and Alhambra Unified School District, and in other  
          states are beginning to show positive results of not using  
          punitive measures like suspension and expulsions and more  
          alternative practices that emphasize restorative justice  
          (reflections of one's behavior), counseling, referrals to drug  
          treatment and other social services, within the school setting.   

           Suspensions and expulsions .  Under existing law, a principal or  
          a superintendent may suspend or expel a pupil for committing any  
          of a number of specified acts, including "disruption of school  
          activities or willful defiance."  The California Department of  
          Education (CDE) reports that in 2010-11, of a total enrollment  
          of 6,174,717, there were 700,884 suspensions and 18,649  
          expulsions.  The CDE does not yet report disaggregated data that  
          show the causes for suspensions and expulsions and only provides  
          the categories that are required for federal reporting purposes,  
          which includes the categories of "violent drug expulsion,"  
          "non-student firearm incidents," and "persistently dangerous  
          expulsions."  Using the California Longitudinal Pupil  
          Achievement Data System (CALPADS), school districts began to  
          report student-level data in 2011-12, which will provide access  
          to more detailed and specific data, including those broken down  
          by the type of offenses that cause suspension or expulsion.   
          According to the CDE, the Superintendent of Public Instruction  
          will be unveiling the new data system on April 19th.  


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          This bill is a modified version of AB 2242 (Dickinson)  
          introduced last year.  The bill removed disrupting of school  
          activities or otherwise willfully defying the authority of  
          school or school district officials as a reason for suspending  
          or recommending expulsion for all grade levels.  The Governor  
          vetoed the bill with the following statement:

               "I cannot support limiting the authority of local  
               school leaders, especially at a time when budget cuts  
               have greatly increased class sizes and reduced the  
               number of school personnel. It is important that  
               teachers and school officials retain broad discretion  
               to manage and set the tone in the classroom. 

               The principle of subsidiarity calls for greater, not  
               less, deference to our elected school boards which are  
               directly accountable to the citizenry."

           This bill  keeps this category for suspension of pupils in  
          grades 6 through 12 and only after the third time a pupil  
          is found to have disrupted school activities or willfully  
          defied the authority of school officials.  This bill also  
          removes the authority to use this category for the  
          expulsion of pupils.  

          The author estimates that 42% of suspensions are due to willful  
          defiance.  This is consistent with national estimates.  Public  
          Counsel, one of the sponsors of the bill, states that  
          nationally, from 2005 to 2007, school disciplinary exclusions  
          for insubordination accounted for roughly 43% of the total,  
          whereas only 0.7% were for use or possession of a firearm or  
          explosive.  Some examples of district level data provided by the  
          author's office include the following:

                 Kern Union High School District reported 13,916  
               suspensions during 2009-10 and identified willful defiance  
               as the most severe grounds for 57% of its suspensions.  
                 Clovis Unified reported 5,279 suspensions during 2009-10  
               and identified willful defiance as the most severe grounds  
               for 71% of its suspensions.  
                 Manteca Unified School District reported 4,849  
               suspensions in 2010-2011 and identified willful defiance as  
               the most severe grounds for 61% of its suspensions.  
                 Santa Rosa City Schools reported some 2,820 suspensions  
               for its five largest high schools and identified willful  


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               defiance as the most severe grounds for 61% of these  

           Disruption of school activities and willful defiance  .  According  
          to supporters, this category is broad and can encompass a number  
          of offenses, from not following a teacher's direction, talking  
          back to a teacher, not turning in homework, to throwing  
          furniture.  Compared with offenses that require expulsion, such  
          as bringing a knife or firearm to school, these types of  
          offenses could be considered minor, although teachers would  
          argue that these behaviors can cause major interference to  
          students' learning environment in the classroom.  The issue is  
          how to address these types of behaviors.  Those who advocate for  
          anti-punitive measures would argue that these students can be  
          reformed through personal reflections and positive  
          interventions.  Others would argue that not having the ability  
          to impose out-of-school suspensions would send the message that  
          these types of behaviors are not serious. 

           Willful defiance as a catch-all  .  This category appears to be a  
          catch-all category for suspending a pupil as there is no  
          definition of what constitutes willful defiance.  While the goal  
          to keep students in class and in school is a positive goal,  
          teachers and administrators should also have the ability to take  
          action if one student's behavior prevents a teacher from  
          effectively carrying out instructional activities, which can  
          hurt the remainder of the class.  If willful defiance will  
          continue to be used, the author may wish to consider developing  
          a definition to clarify the actions that constitute willful  
          defiance of school authority.    

           Changing culture  .  Several bills were introduced last year  
          attempting to reduce the use of punitive, zero-tolerance  
          measures and focus, instead, on alternatives to address the  
          causes of a pupil's behavior.  While these bills are one  
          component in changing pupil and staff behavior, changing the  
          culture of a school from a less punitive environment to a more  
          positive one and to implement positive behavioral programs, such  
          as restorative justice programs, require training and support  
          from all school staff as well as sufficient counselors, mental  
          health providers, and other school personnel.  

           Arguments in Support  .  The author states, "More than two decades  
          of research has confirmed that out-of-school suspensions do not  
          work.  They do not improve student behavior and, in fact, often  


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          exacerbate the problem.  In addition, students who are subjected  
          to out-of-school discipline not only lose important  
          instructional time, they are far more likely to drop out of  
          school and enter the juvenile justice system, at great cost to  
          the state.  One study found that with respect to detained youth  
          that more than "80 percent . . . had been suspended . . . and  
          more than 50 percent had been expelled from school prior to  
          their incarceration."  Whereas students whose problem behaviors  
          are addressed proactively with research-based supports and  
          interventions in school and with parents are more likely to  
          remain in school and on track."
           Arguments in Opposition  .  The California School Boards  
          Association (CSBA) states, "while it is important to provide  
          alternative programs and methods to address the needs of  
          students rather than just suspension and expulsion, it is just  
          as important to ensure that schools have the resources and staff  
          necessary to provide those alternatives.  CSBA remains concerned  
          about the lack of training for school personnel to communicate  
          and deal with willfully defiant students without suspending  
          them.  Further, there will also need to be the resources to  
          provide additional classroom space and teachers for in-school  
          suspension programs."   

           Previous legislation  .  AB 2242 (Dickinson), vetoed by the  
          Governor last year, would have prohibited pupils who are found  
          to have disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully  
          defied the authority of school or school district officials from  
          being subject to extended suspension, or recommended for  
          expulsion or expelled.


          Brothers Sons Selves Coalition (co-sponsor)
          Children Now (co-sponsor)
          Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California (co-sponsor)
          Public Counsel (co-sponsor)
          American Civil Liberties Union
          Black Organizing Project's Bettering Our School System Campaign
          Black Parallel School Board
          California Correctional Peace Officers Association
          California State PTA
          Californians for Justice


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          Children's Defense Fund-California
          Children's Movement of California
          Community Asset Development Re-defining Education
          Community Coalition
          Disability Rights California
          Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
          Disability Rights Legal Center
          East Bay Children's Law Offices
          Equality California
          Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County
          Gay-Straight Alliance Network
          InnerCity Struggle
          Khmer Girls in Action
          Labor/Community Strategy Center's Community Rights Campaign
          Legal Services for Children
          Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade
          Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc.
          Peace Over Violence
          Project: PeaceMakers, Inc.
          Restorative Schools Vision Project
          Violence Prevention Coalition
          Western Center on Law & Poverty
          Youth and Education Law Project  
          Youth Justice Coalition
          Youth Law Center
          Youth Leadership Institute
          Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA
          Many individuals

          California Federation of Teachers
          California School Board Association (Oppose unless Amended)
          Small School Districts' Association
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087