Senate approves bill to ban suspension of Texas’ youngest students


The Texas Senate passed a bill Wednesday, 17-13, that would bar school officials from suspending students in third grade and lower.

Senate Bill 370, by state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, makes some exceptions for violent behavior, bringing a weapon onto school property or dealing drugs or alcohol.

The House passed a similar bill last week.

“It’s hard for me to even imagine what a little child that age would do to merit an expulsion,” Garcia said. “For tender ages like this, we ought to let kids be kids.”

Garcia said that suspensions disproportionately affect black and Latino boys and students with special needs. Such students are more likely to then fall behind and dislike school, possibly leading them down paths toward academic failure and serving time in prison, she said.

Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who voted against the bill, said he’s not aware of the school districts in his area suspending their youngest students. He said he fears that creating a blanket policy would have unintended consequences.

“It’s too overreaching. I think it goes too far. I think that we continue to undermine the disciplinary actions that used to be available to school districts,” Perry said.

Some large urban school boards, including the Austin, Houston and Dallas school districts, have passed policies to prohibit the suspension of young students. In February, the Austin school board approved a policy to ban suspensions, expulsions or alternative disciplinary programs for students in prekindergarten through second grade.

Hundreds of students in those grades are suspended from Austin schools every year. While numbers have been decreasing, black, Latino and special education students are suspended in disproportionate numbers, the American-Statesman has reported. Of the 351 prekindergarten- through second-grade students suspended last year, 85 percent were black or Latino. Some offenses include using rude language and leaving without permission.

The bill encourages school districts to adopt “positive behavioral intervention and support” models that can be used in the classroom as alternatives to suspension. Garcia said such a model encourages teachers to tell students what to do instead of telling them what not to do.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

We Are Blood, Austin’s blood bank, puts out call for donations
We Are Blood, Austin’s blood bank, puts out call for donations

The holidays are a busy time of year. But when it comes to giving blood, things can be a bit slow. The need for blood never slows down, though, so We Are Blood, Austin’s blood bank, has kicked off what it’s calling the “12 Days of Giving.” Anyone who donates – or tries to donate – between now and Dec. 22 will be...
Community news: Austin launches busking program at Seaholm District

TRAVIS COUNTY AUSTIN Busking program launched The city of Austin Music & Entertainment Division has launched a busking program pilot within the Seaholm District as a draw to residents and visitors to newly opened public spaces and buildings in downtown Austin. The pilot will secure and activate prime busking spots throughout the development for musicians...
Can you guess the Texas state park based on its Christmas ornament?
Can you guess the Texas state park based on its Christmas ornament?

If you’re into Christmas, and you’re into Texas, and you’re into the state parks that call Texas home, then Texas Parks and Wildlife has just the ornaments for you. As it has since 2002, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is selling park-themed collectible Christmas ornaments.  This year’s ornaments feature three...
Even in progressive Austin, women still lag behind
Even in progressive Austin, women still lag behind

In Central Texas, gender disparities remain even as the region’s economy grows. Austin women continue to lag behind men in income, safety and financial security, and women and children are disproportionately living in poverty. But there have been some improvements, too, and a number of nonprofits are taking on these disparities directly. The...
Dripping Springs High School engineering team competes in Abu Dhabi
Dripping Springs High School engineering team competes in Abu Dhabi

A team of engineering students from Dripping Springs High School spent a week in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates competing in the Land Rover 4x4 World Championships. The students placed 12th in a field of 23 teams from 18 countries after ranking as high as third during the multiday competition. The event involved each team designing and building...
More Stories