21′ SB0230/HB0016 – Hensley/Cepicky

Bill Description

Classroom Discipline Generally

Present law authorizes every teacher to hold every pupil strictly accountable for any disorderly conduct in school or on the playground of the school, during intermission or recess period or on any school bus going to or returning to school. This bill instead specifies that a teacher is authorized to manage the teacher's classroom, discipline students, and refer a student to the principal or the principal's designee to maintain discipline in the classroom, and to hold students in the teacher's charge strictly accountable for any disorderly conduct.

Discipline Policies and Codes of Conduct

Present law requires each LEA and charter school governing body to adopt a discipline policy or code of conduct to apply to the students in each school operated by the LEA or charter school governing body. This bill adds that the student discipline policies and code of conduct must authorize teachers and administrators to enforce the policy or code and to hold students accountable for any disorderly conduct in school, on school buses, or at school-sponsored events.

Present law requires that each policy or code address various subjects, one of which is student conduct on school property, conduct in classes, and conduct on school buses. This amendment specifies that each policy or code must address disobedient, violent, abusive, uncontrollable, or disruptive student conduct on school property, on school buses, and at school-sponsored events.

Student Relocation Policies

Present law requires LEAs to adopt a complete policy regarding a teacher's ability to relocate a student from the student's present location to another location for the student's safety or the safety of others. In order to enforce relocation policy, reasonable or justifiable force may be used. The relocation policies must also cover teachers' authorization to intervene in a physical altercation using reasonable or justifiable force to end the altercation by relocating the student. A relocation policy must be effective on school property, as well as at official school functions that occur off school property. A relocation policy must cover all LEA employees who interact with a student on a professional basis while acting within the scope of their assigned duties.

Under present law, a relocation policy must require a teacher to file a report with the principal describing the need for the student's relocation. Generally, the reports are placed in a student's disciplinary file instead of the student's permanent record. If the student's conduct constituted a zero-tolerance violation, the report must be filed in the student's permanent record.

Present law requires a principal to fully support the authority of every teacher in the principal's school to relocate a student.

This bill makes the requirement for adoption of a relocation policy applicable to public charter school governing bodies.

Student Disciplinary Referrals

Under present law, when a member of a school's faculty or staff disciplines a student by issuing a written referral for the student's behavior, the referral must be returned to the member of the faculty or staff with a notation of the action taken. The referral is kept in a student discipline file and is not part of the student's permanent record.

This bill replaces present law concerning disciplinary referrals to specifically authorize teachers to discipline students by referring student behavior matters to their school's principal, or the principal's designee. This bill requires principals and designees to respond to a teacher's disciplinary referral of a student by employing appropriate discipline management techniques that are consistent with the LEA's or school's policy. As is the case under present law, the teacher must be notified of the action taken. Any record of a student discipline referral will continue to be kept in a student's discipline file and not become part of the student's permanent record.

Requests for Removal from the Classroom

This bill authorizes teachers to submit a written request to the school's principal, or the principal's designee, to remove a student who repeatedly or substantially interferes with the teacher's ability to communicate effectively with the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn if the student's behavior is in violation of the LEA's or school's discipline policy or code of conduct. The full text of this bill specifies various procedural requirements that will apply to a teacher's request for a student's removal from the classroom. After reviewing the request and hearing the student's account, the principal or principal's designee may reassign the student to a different classroom, assign the student to in-school suspension, remand the student to an alternative school, suspend the student, require the student's parents to participate in conferences before the student returns to the classroom from which the student was removed, or deny the teacher's request and offer the teacher supports to address the student's behavior.

Any action taken by a principal, or the principal's designee, in response to a teacher's request to remove a student from the teacher's classroom must comply with all applicable policies of the LEA, the public charter school governing body, as applicable, and all applicable laws. Principals or the designees must notify law enforcement, as appropriate, when acting on a teacher's request to remove a student from the teacher's classroom.

This bill requires each LEA and each public charter school governing body to establish an appeal process for a teacher to file an appeal when the teacher's request to remove a student from the teacher's classroom is denied.

This bill prohibits retaliation against a teacher for submitting a request for a student's removal from the teacher's classroom or appealing a denial of any such request. If a teacher abuses or overuses the student removal process, then the principal or the principal's designee must address the abuse or overuse with the teacher.

This bill requires schools to annually report to the director of schools or head of the public charter school the number of requests for removal of a student submitted during the prior school year. The report must document the action taken on the requests. Each director of schools must compile the date provided in each school's report and issue a district-wide report to the LEA. This bill authorizes the commissioner of education to review the reports and provide training and other resources to schools and LEAs to address needs identified in the reviews.

Report to Governor and General Assembly

This bill requires the commissioner of education to report to the governor and the general assembly on the implementation of and compliance with this bill. The initial report is due by February 1, 2023.

Effective Date

This bill's provisions will take effect on January 1, 2022.

ON MARCH 8, 2021, THE HOUSE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 16, AS AMENDED.

AMENDMENT #1 specifies that this bill's authorization for a teacher to manage the teacher's classroom, discipline students, and refer a student to the principal to maintain discipline applies to "teachers trained in evidence-based behavior supports." This amendment also requires that the discipline policy or code of conduct adopted by a local board or charter school governing board include evidence-based behavior supports and interventions.

ON MARCH 11, 2021, THE SENATE SUBSTITUTED HOUSE BILL 16 FOR SENATE BILL 230, ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1, AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 16, AS AMENDED.

AMENDMENT #1 incorporates the changes made by House Amendment #1 and clarifies that any action, rather than only actions taken by a principal or principal's designee, in response to a teacher's request to remove a student from the teacher's classroom must comply with all applicable legal requirements.

TLRC Position

TLRC strongly supports this bill. It is long overdue.

TLRC Observed Process

The bill passed through the house unanimously. It passed the senate on a partisan basis with the exception of Senator Walley (R – Bolivar) who voted no.

Vote Result: Passed

Score: +5

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