By Fix School Discipline, September 16, 2019
SB 419 will help keep students in school, increase student success, and increase high school graduation
Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation to eliminate suspensions for minor misbehaviors and protect California students from discriminatory and harmful school climates. Under Senate Bill 419, which was introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), school districts will no longer be permitted to use defiance or disruption, as justification for suspending students through eighth grade. The new law will protect thousands of students from being pushed out of school; during the 2017-18 school year, more than 20,000 students in grades four through eight were suspended for defiance or disruption.
SB 419 will improve student outcomes and encourage schools to adopt alternatives to suspensions and expulsions by permanently eliminating defiance or disruption suspensions for students in grades 4-5, and eliminating defiance or disruption suspensions for students in grades 6-8 through July 1, 2025. SB 419 amends current Education Code to address the overuse of suspensions for minor and subjective misbehaviors. Since Education Code 48900 (k) is a broad and subjective catch-all category, students have been suspended for chewing gum, not paying attention, talking back, and wearing sweatpants. This category of suspensions has contributed to racial inequality in California schools. Black students, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately targeted with harsh discipline for common youth behaviors.