Thursday, the House of Delegates approved bill that would put limitations on expulsions and suspensions of the youngest public school students. Under the proposed legislation, educators and disciplinarians would not be allowed to suspend or expel prekindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grade students without first taking other steps to improve their behavior.
Some circumstances will permit such extreme measures, such as bringing a gun to school. The bill passed by a 91-48 vote on the house floor and will move to the Senate for consideration.
The House version of the legislation, students could face suspensions up to nine days and only five in the Senate version. However, suspensions will only be permitted if a mental health professional determines there is an “imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff” that cannot be addressed any other way.
Under the proposed legislation schools will be required to provide students, who have been expelled or suspended “intervention and support” instead of simply sending them home.
House sponsor, Delegate Brooke E. Lierman, said she’s happy with the bill as amended.
“The bill still sends a strong message to the schools and the State Department of Education that the General Assembly does not think it is appropriate to suspend or expel our youngest learners,” the Baltimore Democrat said.
If the bill, as the committee amended it, passes the Senate, the two chambers will have to resolve their differences, before it becomes law.