HB 17-1210 (Lontine & Buckner/Fields & Priola) Addressing Out-of-School Suspension & Expulsion of Young Children

Originally Posted: March 3, 2017
Last Updated: April 21, 2017

Summary

A high quality, nurturing environment in the early school years unlocks the potential of all of our children to learn about themselves and the world. Currently, too few children are on track for success by the end of third grade.  There are many reasons for this, but one is that exclusionary school discipline based on infractions often unrelated to safety push thousands of children out of the building at a time when school can have the greatest impact.  This bill would update statute to offer better guidance to administrators regarding out-of-school suspensions & expulsions for young children. For children in Colorado Preschool Program and Preschool Special Education classrooms (typically 3- & 4-year olds) and children in grades Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd, the bill ensures that out-of-school suspensions for young children address ongoing safety concerns and are developmentally appropriate. The bill does not affect statute governing in-school suspensions or classroom removals. The bill also reinforces the partnership between parents and schools in determining if a child has an unidentified disability when safety or behavioral issues arise and clarifies that eligibility regarding prevention, early intervention, and support services for expelled and at-risk students includes the early elementary grades.

Position

The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. School success by end of third grade is a powerful predictor of later academic and life outcomes, including graduation. Currently, too few children, especially Black, Latino, Native American, and children with disabilities, are on track for success by the end of third grade. There are many reasons for this, but one is that exclusionary school discipline based on infractions often unrelated to safety push thousands of children, disproportionately boys, Black children, Latino boys, and children with disabilities, out of the building at a time when school can have the greatest impact. We know that investments in early development pay huge dividends in preventing and closing opportunity gaps. Yet research shows that practices like out-of-school suspension and expulsion are currently widening the education equity gap. In the early years of rapid brain development, we need thoughtful discipline policies that help children unlock their potential. Unfortunately, in current law the same categories for exclusionary discipline that exist for an 18-year-old also exist for a 5-year-old. By focusing on alternatives to suspension and expulsion for non-threatening behavior for very young children, we have an opportunity to address the root causes of a child’s actions. This is a missed opportunity when a young child is sent out of the school building.

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Current Status

The bill died in the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on a party line 3-2 vote. See more in this week’s KidsFlash for a statement on next steps by the advocates for this bill.

Previous Statuses


April 14, 2017

Assigned to the Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee where it is scheduled to be heard on Monday, April 17 at 1:30 in Room 357.

March 24, 2017

The bill passed the House on a bipartisan 40-24 vote and now heads to the Senate.

March 17, 2017

Passed the House Education Committee on a bipartisan 8-5 vote and passed on a 2nd reading voice vote on the House floor. It now awaits a 3rd reading vote in the House.

March 10, 2017

Scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday, March 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0112.

March 3, 2017

Introduced in the House and assigned to the House Education Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard on Monday, March 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0112.