Bill by Senators Newell and Hudak seeks smarter approach toward school discipline
Legislative leaders from House and Senate give green light to school discipline reform bill
DENVER— Today, the Legislative Council Committee passed a bill to improve disciplinary policies in Colorado public schools. Senate Bill 133, sponsored by Senators Evie Hudak (D-Westminster) and Linda Newell (D-Littleton), will help find ways for Colorado to reduce the student dropout rate, increase the high school graduation rate, make schools safer and more effective, reduce the number of youth entering the juvenile and criminal justice systems, save taxpayer dollars, and build healthier communities throughout the state.. The bill will now be heard by the full Senate.
Senate Bill 133 takes a smarter approach toward school discipline. Senator Evie Hudak offered the following comment on the bill’s passage by the Legislative Council:
“These days, too many students are referred to law enforcement for issues that were once resolved in the principal’s office. We need to do better for our children. This bill will help us identify best practices and provide the Legislature with evidence-based solutions for improving discipline in public schools.”
Senator Newell offered the following comment on the committee passage of Senate Bill 133:
“We need to find the most effective strategies for keeping our kids safe in school. The need for school discipline reform is demonstrated by the strong, bipartisan support for Senate Bill 133. This bill will help us identify smart solutions to correct student behavior and foster a supportive learning environment for students to grow.”
Over the last ten years, nearly 100,000 students across the state have been referred to law enforcement by their schools. The majority of these referrals have been for minor offenses that reflect normal adolescent behavior and do not threaten school safety. Not long ago, the same behavior that resulted in a trip to the principal’s office or a call home now results in an arrest and/or a trip to juvenile court. The school discipline crisis in Colorado prevents thousands of students from getting the quality education they deserve, and often undermines school safety.
Senate Bill 133 creates a task force to study the issue of fair discipline in schools and solicit input from schools and administrators, as well as, students, parents, and the community in conducting the study. The task force will gather data on disciplinary strategies and the use of criminal justice sanctions in public schools across Colorado, including the overuse of suspensions, expulsions, school-based arrests and tickets, using this research to recommend alternative policies and offer solutions for the consideration of legislative action in the 2012 session.