California Advocates Celebrate as Governor Signs Law to Address Overuse of Suspensions in Schools!

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

“No student should be set back in their education for something as minor as chewing gum or talking in class,” said Angela McNair Turner, Staff Attorney at Public Counsel. “SB 419 is a huge step forward in addressing equity in schools across the state and eliminating the school to prison pipeline for youth in grades K-8, but there are still nearly 19,000 students who were suspended for defiance in the 2017-2018 school year who will not have these protections. We will continue to advocate for their right to an education.”

SB 419 will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

SB 419 is sponsored by the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, PolicyLink, Brothers Sons Selves Coalition, Children Now, Fix School Discipline Coalition, Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights of The San Francisco Bay Area, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, and Public Counsel.

Visit our legislation page or click here to download the SB 419 Factsheet.

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