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School officials to consider ‘adverse childhood experiences’ before discipline

State senator from Memphis sponsored new law

By Sam Stockard Updated: September 05, 2019 4:21 PM CT | Published: September 05, 2019 4:16 PM CT

Schools across Tennessee will start delving into traumatic experiences in students’ lives as part of a new law targeting “exclusionary” discipline under legislation sponsored by state Sen. Katrina Robinson, a first-term Memphis Democrat.

Signed into law by Gov. Bill Lee, Senate Bill 170 requires school systems to come up with plans for assessing students who go through “adverse childhood experiences” and consider those circumstances when meting out major disciplinary measures such as suspension or expulsion, in-school suspension or alternative school.

Affecting K-12 schools across Tennessee, the new law is designed to help educators find the underlying reasons for a student’s misbehavior and offer resources to straighten them out.

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I think that this is a turn in the right direction. I was constantly fighting in school but they overlooked it because I was a good student. My brother did not get the same treatment because he was disruptive in school, which is understandable to me. Had anyone actually tried to understand what was going on then maybe my brother wouldn't have been in and out of juvenile hall. We wouldn't have been punished for having emotions that we didn't know how to process. Nothing makes you feel more alone than being punished for being angry with unjust circumstances. It just further perpetuates the abuse and trauma and creates criminals and drug addicts.


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