SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The California State Senate voted to ban schools and principals from suspending students for “willful defiance” of teachers, staff, and administrators.

The Senate approved SB 419 Monday by a vote of 30-8. It moves to the Assembly next.

A similar bill was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown last legislative session.

Under the new version (Senate Bill 419), students in grades 4-8 wouldn’t be suspended for disrupting school activities or willfully defying school authorities, including teachers and staff. The bill would also ban schools from suspending students in grades 9-12 for the same thing until January 1, 2025. The law would apply to both public and charter schools.

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Existing law already prohibits schools from suspending children in grades K-3 for disrupting or willful defiance. Existing law also prevents schools from recommending the expulsion of students in all grades for disrupting or willful defiance.

Students could still be suspended or expelled for other acts, including threatening violence, bringing a weapon or drugs to school, or damaging school property. Teachers could also still be allowed to “suspend pupils from class for the day and the following day who disrupt school activities or otherwise willfully defied valid
authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, school officials, or other school personnel engaged in the performance of their duties.”

As part of the new bill, superintendents or principals would be asked to provide alternatives to suspension or expulsion that are “age appropriate and designed to address and correct the pupil’s specific misbehavior.”

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Research has shown the category of willful defiance was disproportionately used to discipline minority students, specifically African-Americans. Assembly Bill 420 was signed into law by Governor Brown in 2014, eliminating the expulsion option for schools. It took effect on January 1, 2015.

In the 2015-16 school year, 96,421 students suspended for willful defiance – a decrease of nearly 30,000 from 2014-15 school year. Willful defiance suspensions accounted for 24% of total suspensions statewide that school year. Willful defiance suspensions made up 20% of all suspensions in the 2016-17 school year, and 14% in the 2017-18 school year.

African-American students made up 5.6% of enrollment in California schools in 2017-18, but accounted for 15.6% of willful defiance suspensions. Conversely, white students made up 23.2% of statewide enrollment but made up only 20.2% of willful defiance suspensions.

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The bill’s author, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-9th District), previously talked about the need for the bill, saying: “Under this highly subjective category, students are sent to an empty home, with no supervision, and denied valuable instructional time for anything from failing to turn in homework, not paying attention, or refusing to follow directions, taking off a coat or hat, or swearing in class.”

In Governor Brown’s veto message last year, he wrote in part:

“Teachers and principals are on the front lines educating our children and are in the best position to make decisions about order and discipline in the classroom. That’s why I vetoed a similar bill in 2012. In addition, I just approved $15 million in the 2018 Budget Act to help local schools improve their disciplinary practices. Let’s give educators a chance to invest that money wisely before issuing any further directives from the state.”

Pilot programs have been conducted in Orange County and Butte County and would provide the framework for the new statewide system. Several school districts, in San Francisco Unified, Los Angeles Unified, and Oakland Unified have already banned school from issuing willful defiance suspensions and expulsions

Comments (90)
  1. This is the sort of story that makes me feel stupid.

    Isn’t the story of what went wrong at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School widely known now? A “well-meaning” diversion program(pimped by the Obama administration) tied everyone’s hands from doing anything about Nikolas Cruz for years. Even his own mother couldn’t convince authorities to commit him for observation.

    How stupid and disconnected are these California pols that they don’t know about that, or see the similarities?

  2. Joshua Parker says:

    So now all kids have to suffer from the actions of a few. Real smart Cali real smart!!

  3. Teresa Owen Hawkins says:

    And chaos ensued…..

  4. Larry L. Southard says:

    These idiotic decisions enforce why charter schools, parochial school and home schooling should be the first choices.Public schools are a vast wasteland of Progressive indoctrination.

  5. Russell Hunt says:

    As a former teacher in a number of Sacramento high schools, just surrender to the charter schools as at least they will kick the bad apples out. This is surrendering to the mob and furthers the end the public schools.

  6. You are witnessing the death of public education in California.

  7. Michael Fisher says:

    Headline should read “Willful Defiance Gets Green Light in California”

  8. Hal Slusher says:

    Now California has pretty much removed all restraints. Exactly when do they learn to live in society.

  9. John Sandhofner says:

    With policies like this only the ultra liberal types will seek becoming a teacher. There is no way I would be a teacher with kind of policies which do not back up the teachers. This is as stupid as permitting the stealing of anything from a store as long as it is below $750. You have just invited ever petty burglar to steal with no consequences. Lefty idealism will destroy this country.

  10. Clegg Jensen says:

    CA is finished as a viable state and good place to live. The Golden State is drowning in figurative and literal excrement.

  11. Josh Justice says:

    They quote statistics about race as if there’s some sort of discrimination going on.

    I’ve worked in multiple public schools and in a few of them, 90% of the behavioral issues were with my African American students. The students that would physically threaten me and actually assault me, throw racial slurs, start arguments, refuse to leave the classroom when they were cheating on a test… 90% or more were my African American students.

    They started to suspend students less when the state saw that the district was suspending African American students at a higher rate, but what do you do when that’s the actual problem? It’s not because they’re African American, it was because of their actions, but if you look at stats without context, it appears racist, which more often than not, that’s not the issue.

    I was shoved by student 5 times and he came with an entourage. Suspended 2 days. Shoved my another student: referral and that’s it. Verbally abused with foul language? Nothing. Physically threatened multiple times, an inch from my face? not even sent home for the day. Threatened by the same student multiple times? seriously, nothing happened. All of my issues were with African American students with the exception of one Latino student that was disrespectful

    Just so everyone knows, it was voted on but the state decided a few years ago that they didnt want anyone suspended anymore and that’s when all of these actions resulted in little to no punishment and why I refuse to be a teacher.

    My wife gets cussed out by 5th graders and the office just sends them right back.

    1. California has become the state of high taxes and bad government. The idiots up in Corrupt-a-mento have no concept of unintended consequences. Aside from the fact that disruptive students, facing few consequences, never learn to become civilized Human Beings, the idiots running our state seem unable to grasp that increasingly their nonsensical law will lead to a huge teacher shortage. The teachers I know retire as early as they can, because the job has become so horrible. And of course any middle-class parents who can will either home-school their kids or send them to private schools.

      1. Lytchcov Zammana says:

        The current climate of “willful” misbehavior of all kinds is why I’m hangin’ up my teaching spurs early. 22 days left… Others, I also know, who were also offered an incentive to leave early (the District will save money) also factored in the deteriorating discipline.
        Even poor students are not stupid – if they know there’s no real punishment for behaving like jerks in class, then they will – at the expense of the students who are “really trying,” but who are hamstrung by others who want to slow the pace.
        Couple that with the trends toward: “No Homework.” Yep, that’s in the works and “No limits on cell-phone use” – already, seemingly, unstoppable and out of control, and it’s just become too much of a battle everyday.
        It’s no wonder my brother-in-law, who’s also a teacher, home-schools his young daughters – If I still had kids, I’d do the same.

  12. Reason #109380092 why there should never, ever be a popular vote for President. These people need less influence on society, not more.

  13. Sounds like the loonies in CA . . . really pathetic!

  14. Paul says:

    1, They need to elect new Senators
    2. They will start losing teachers by the dozen and closing schools for lack of staff.
    3. what do you suppose “The calf. Senators” will do then?
    4. California is so out of touch with reality. I can just see some teen being disruptive to the entire class and now nothing can be done about it. the student will be just like the US Senators with no accountability.

  15. Barry Hirsh says:

    So far gone even ECT woudn’t fix it.

  16. Peter York says:

    this is going to make the fatherless barbarians behave better? I’m a retired English teacher in California, and I’ll say this:

    “HAR HAR! tee freaking hee! HEE-YUK! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Lord, what morons these democrats be!”

  17. Mike Houck says:

    What could go wrong?

  18. Greg Burton says:

    Good. Next step would have been characterizing legitimate opposition, questioning of an offical narrative. Like the official narrative about vaccines being safe. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10212057581029479&set=a.2581078740917&type=3&theater

  19. Reading comprehension is good. says:

    Did any of you actually read the article? Or did you just comment based on the click-baity title? Kids that are violent can still be expelled or suspended. It’s the kids that are acting like mouthy jerks that can’t be suspended. My kid is in Jr High. I know the type this is targeting. It’s targeting the ones that are trying to get suspended so they can spend a few days at home. This keeps them in school. Maybe they can actually figure out why the kid is acting out instead of just saying “Oh well. Onto the next one.”
    This was the issue with my stepson before he lived with us. The school didn’t want to deal with him so they sent him home. School was where he absolutely didn’t want to be. So, it worked for him to be sent home where he was allowed to veg out and play video games all day. Now that he’s here, he’s doing great. He hasn’t missed any school. He has straight A’s.
    I say we need to fund schools a bit better so they can address the issues. But, this is a start.

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