PALM DESERT,Calif. - Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday that he signed the bill, SB 419, which permanently prohibits suspensions for "willful defiance" in grades four and five, and bans suspensions in grades six through eight until 2025.
The new law comes on top of a law already in place that bans such suspensions for students up to the third grade.
The bill's author, State Senator Nancy Skinner, a democrat from Berkeley, says the new law would "keep kids in school where they belong and where teachers and counselors can help them thrive."
Reyna Martinez, whose grandchildren attend Washington Charter School in Palm Desert supports the law.
"Because I remember you know, when I had another children, she is older now, and i remember when she ws suspended from school, instead she should be getting sad and anything, oh she said it was fine, she said i could sleep in, I don't have to get up to go to school," said Martinez.
According to a senate analysis of Senate Bill 419, California students missed more than 150,000 days of school because of suspensions for unruly behavior during the 2016-17 academic year.
Skinner and other supporters of the bill argue that students of color are disproportionately impacted by the suspensions.
That was a point noted by Palm Desert resident Richard Kieta, who nevertheless opposes the new law.
"I would think we don't need a law to do the right things, sometimes we do, but in this case, I'm thinking take action responsibly, as opposed to just writing laws," said Kieta.
The new law encourages school districts to "provide alternatives to suspension" and to use strategies to "improve behavioral and academic outcomes".
Opponents of the law, include Eric Premack, head of the charter school development center, who says the law is a "fix in search of a problem".
The new law goes into effect July 1st, 2020.
News Channel 3 asked representatives for all 3 valley public school districts for comment on the new law.
Only Desert Sands Unified School District provided an official response.
This is the statement from DSUSD Public Information Officer Mary Perry:
"The passing of SB 419 commencing July 1, 2020 aligns with our district's Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) structure that we are implementing across all sites with interventions and targeted support in both academic and behavioral health. Our focus is proactive in providing the skills and tools to support students in shaping their behavior as we look at interventions along with appropriate consequences to assist students in school and life. All school site staff are being trained in Trauma Informed Practices to better understand and support issues as students enter our classrooms along with other intervention strategies. Desert Sands USD is committed to our mission to inspire and nurture every student....one opportunity at a time! Laura Fisher, assistant superintendent student support services."
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