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AB 420 ends suspensions of young students & school districts show support

As California students go back to school this month, there’s good news for everyone who wants to make sure they stay there. Starting January 1, California became the first state in the nation to eliminate in and out-of-school suspensions for its youngest children – K-3, and all expulsions for what is known as “willful defiance.”

Teacher Karen Junker at Davidson Middle School put it this way: “AB 420 puts California on the path to being a state where we can ensure that all 5-8 year old students have access to good academic and social outcomes, even when they make mistakes and get themselves in trouble. This will focus our efforts at the youngest grades on giving teachers and students opportunities to learn to build community and repair harm where harm is done.”

Governor Brown signed AB 420 last year because of the incredible support from community and civil rights groups and educators. AB 420 was co-sponsored by Public Counsel, Children Now, Fight Crime Invest in Kids, and the ACLU of California.

“Reducing suspensions in the earliest grades means giving educators the tools they need to help students showing warning signs before they fall too far behind,” said Laura Faer, Public Counsel’s statewide Education Rights Director. “AB 420 gives school districts extra incentive to expand research-proven alternatives to harsh discipline that focus on prevention, not interruption of a student’s education.”

Get help with implementation of AB 420: click here to get support.

School districts moving ahead on reducing suspensions

Several school districts have gone further, eliminating suspensions for willful defiance and disruption altogether. These include San Francisco, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. Others, like Azusa, are phasing this category of suspensions out over the next few years. As part of Local Control Accountability Plans, school districts are moving away from school removal and investing in research-based alternatives for holding students accountable and helping improve their behavior. These include Santa Rosa City Schools, Santa Ana Unified, Vallejo City Unified, Fresno Unified, Azusa Unified, and Berkeley Unified and many more.

Pasadena Unified School District leaders voted to extend the AB 420 ban on suspensions for willful defiance through grade 12.

“We, as a committee, wanted to be more progressive than other districts and signal that we would like to expand our policy to (kindergarten) through 12,” said PUSD school board member Mikala Rahn.

“It’s not about taking something away from our teachers or administrators but actually being honest together about what works and what’s going to increase your attendance and increase academic achievement in schools,” Public Counsel’s Ruth Cusick said to the school board.

Click here to read more in the Pasadena Star News. 

Email us at info[at]fixschooldiscipline.org to tell Fix School Discipline how your district or school is implementing AB 420. We want to hear your stories of successes!

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