BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 420
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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
          AB 420 (Dickinson)
          As Amended  August 13, 2014
          Majority vote
           
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          |ASSEMBLY:  |52-23|(May 30, 2013)  |SENATE: |24-8 |(August 19,    |
          |           |     |                |        |     |2014)          |
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           Original Committee Reference:    ED.

          SUMMARY  :  Removes, until July 1, 2018, disrupting of school  
          activities or otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of  
          supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or  
          other school personnel as a reason to suspend any pupil enrolled  
          in kindergarten through grade 3.  Prohibits, until July 1, 2018,  
          expulsion of a pupil enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12  
          for disrupting school activities or otherwise willfully defying  
          the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators,  
          school officials, or other school personnel.       

           The Senate amendments:

           1)Remove the authority to use disruption of school activities or  
            otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of school  
            officials as a reason to suspend a pupil from kindergarten  
            through grade 5, and instead apply the prohibition on pupils  
            from kindergarten through grade 3. 

          2)Remove the provision authorizing suspension of  a pupil in  
            grades 6 through 12 for disrupting school activities or  
            otherwise willfully defying the valid authority of school  
            officials only after the third time in a school year and after  
            other means of correction were attempted. 

          3)Add a sunset date of July 1, 2018, to the provision  
            prohibiting a pupil from kindergarten through grade 3 from  
            being suspended, or recommending for expulsion any pupil from  
            kindergarten through grade 12, due to disrupting of school  
            activities or defying the valid authority of school officials.  
             

          4)Strike the provision specifying that a teacher is not  
            prevented from suspending a pupil from class, pursuant to the  








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            Education Code Section 48910, for 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.
           
          FISCAL EFFECT  :  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the Legislative  
          Counsel.  However, according to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee on the prior version of this bill, there is increased  
          General Fund/Proposition 98 revenue limit costs, likely in  
          excess of $3.5 million, to provide school districts with revenue  
          limit funding (general purpose) for pupils who will no longer be  
          suspended in grades k-5 for willful defiance and for pupils who  
          can no longer be suspended after the first offense.

           COMMENTS  :  A University of California, Los Angeles' Civil Rights  
          Project October 2011 brief titled Discipline Policies,  
          Successful Schools, and Racial Justice, report that data  
          gathered by the United States 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 the data that was 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 opportunities."

          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 of a school district may suspend or expel a  
          pupil for committing any of a number of specified acts,  








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          including for the disruption of school activities or willful  
          defiance of school or school district officials.  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.  Using the California Longitudinal Pupil  
          Achievement Data System (CALPADS), school districts began to  
          report student-level data in 2011-12.  According to the CDE,  
          170,449 pupils served out-of-school suspensions for willful  
          defiance in 2011-12.

          This bill is a modified version of AB 2242 (Dickinson) of 2012.   
          AB 2242 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 narrows the application of the bill to  
          kindergarten through grade 3 and inserts a sunset of July  
          1, 2018.   

          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 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."








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          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.  This category appears to be a catch-all category for  
          suspending a pupil as there is no definition of what constitutes  
          "willful defiance."  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 argue that these students can be reformed  
          through personal reflections and positive interventions.  Others  
          argue that not having the ability to impose out-of-school  
          suspensions would send the message that these types of behaviors  
          are not serious. 

          Teacher suspensions:  Existing law allows a teacher to suspend a  
          pupil from class for the day of the suspension and the following  
          day for any of the acts that may be a cause for suspension or  
          expulsion specified under Education Code Section 48900.  This  
          bill does not affect or eliminate this law.   

          Changing culture:  Several bills were introduced last year and  
          this 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.  


           Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087


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