’20-HB2134/SB2252 – Cepicky/Hensley

Bill Description

This bill requires school principals to:
(1) Fully support the authority of every teacher in the principal's school to remove a student from the classroom pursuant to this bill;
(2) Implement the policies and procedures of the LEA relating to the authority of every teacher to remove a student from the classroom and disseminate the policies and procedures to faculty, staff, and parents or guardians of students;
(3) If a teacher removes a student from class, discuss the matter with the teacher and the student by the end of the school day on which such removal occurs or at the beginning of the next school day. This requirement may be fulfilled by the principal's designee. This bill requires the principal or the principal's designee to give the student oral or written notice of the grounds for removal from class and, if the student denies engaging in such conduct, the principal or the principal's designee must explain the evidence supporting the student's removal from class and give the student an opportunity to present an explanation of the situation.
If, after the discussions described above in (3), the principal or the principal's designee seeks to return the student to the teacher's class and the teacher consents, the student will be returned to the class, and the principal or the principal's designee may take action to discipline the student, as may be warranted. If the teacher does not consent to the student's return to class, the principal or the principal's designee must determine an appropriate temporary placement for the student by the end of the first school day following removal and must also take steps to convene a meeting of a placement review committee. The placement review committee must convene by the end of the second school day following removal by the teacher and must issue a decision by the end of the third school day following such removal by the teacher. An appropriate temporary placement for the student is a placement that, in the judgment of the principal or the principal's designee, provides the least interruption to the student's education and reflects other relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the severity of the behavior that was the basis for the removal, the student's behavioral history, the student's need for support services, and the available education settings. The student must not be returned to the class of the teacher who removed the student, as an appropriate temporary placement, unless the teacher consents to the return. The temporary placement must be in effect from the time of removal until the decision of the placement review committee is issued or, if applicable, a placement determination is made pursuant to this bill.

This bill requires that local education agency policies provide for the establishment at each school of one or more placement review committees. This bill sets out in detail the composition of such committees. The teacher withholding consent to readmit the student will not serve on the committee. The placement review committee will have the authority to: return the student to the teacher's class upon determining that such placement is the best alternative or the only available alternative; or refer the student to the principal or the principal's designee for appropriate action consistent with this bill.
The decision of the placement review committee must be made within three school days after the teacher withholds consent to the return of a student. If a placement review committee decides to return a student to a class from which the student was removed, the principal or the principal's designee must implement the decision of the placement review committee. In addition, this bill authorizes the principal or the principal's designee to take other action as a response to an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, so long as such action is consistent with any applicable procedural requirements of the constitutions of the United States and Tennessee and there has been consideration of the use of any appropriate student support services. The authorized actions are set out in this bill and include placing the student in an alternative education program and imposing out-of-school suspension for not more than 10 school days. If a placement review committee decides not to return a student to a class from which the student was removed, the principal or the principal's designee must determine an appropriate placement for the student and, similar to the provisions just described, may take action to discipline the student, such as suspension or placement in another classroom or program, if the placement or disciplinary action is authorized as a response to the alleged violation of the student code of conduct by LEA policies.
Within one school day of taking action pursuant to the committee provisions described above, the principal or the principal's designee must send written notification of the action to the teacher and the parents or guardians of the student and must make a reasonable attempt to confirm that the written notification has been received by the student's parents or guardians. Parents or guardians of a student who has been removed from class pursuant to this bill may be required to participate in conferences that may be requested by the principal or the principal's designee. A student may not be penalized for the failure of the student's parent or guardian to attend such a conference.
This bill specifies that its procedures relating to student conferences and notification of parents or guardians are minimum requirements, and that an LEA may establish additional requirements relating to student conferences, notification of parents or guardians, conferences with parents or guardians, or other procedures required by the constitutions of the United States or Tennessee.
ON JUNE 3, 2020, THE HOUSE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 2134, AS AMENDED.
AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill to specify teachers' authority to maintain student discipline.
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 from school. This amendment 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 in school.
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 amendment adds that the student discipline policies and codes 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 each policy or code to 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 full support the authority of every teacher in the principal's school to relocate a student.
This amendment 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 amendment 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 amendment 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 amendment authorizes teachers to submit a written request to their 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 student discipline policy or code of conduct. The full text of this amendment 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 their designees must notify law enforcement, as appropriate, when acting on a teacher's request to remove a student from the teacher's classroom.
This amendment 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 amendment 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 amendment 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 data provided in each school's report and issue a district-wide report to the LEA. This amendment 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 amendment requires the commissioner of education to report to the governor and the general assembly on the implementation of, and compliance with, this amendment. The initial report is due by February 1, 2022.

TLRC Position

We support any effective measures that deal with behavioral issues in our schools. We wish it were not so complicated and time-consuming but understand the underlying problems in dealing with individuals with different perspectives on the appropriate way to handle troubled children. (We believe that swift application of tough love is the most effective.)

TLRC Observed Process

HOUSE FLOOR VOTE: UNANIMOUS PASSAGE ON THIRD CONSIDERATION 6/3/2020
Ayes...............................................91
Noes…………………………………….………0

Action deferred in Senate Education Committee

Vote Result: Pass House Only

Score: +5

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