(Mar. 14) – The House Education committee voted in favor of Rep. Susan Lontine’s bipartisan bill to reduce preschool and early elementary out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. In Colorado and across the country, young children are being removed from pre-school and early elementary grades at alarming rates
“Suspensions and expulsions disproportionately impact children of color and children with disabilities,” said Rep. Lontine, D-Denver. “This bill addresses a civil rights issue for our youngest learners.”
Suspensions and expulsions result in the loss of valuable learning and enrichment time for Colorado’s kids. Young students, when they return to school, are often behind their classmates and more likely to be disruptive.
In 2014 the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released data showing that black students are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. That year, the Obama administration issued discipline guidelines aimed at reducing school suspensions of students of color. In 2018, the Trump administration and Sec. Betsy DeVos rescinded those guidelines.
Suspensions and expulsions of students increase the likelihood of dropouts, academic failure and an increased likelihood of entry into the criminal justice system.
The bill is aligned with national recommendations that seek to limit school removal for young children while promoting thoughtful exceptions that ensure school safety.
The bill is supported by a number of stakeholders, including the Arc of Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Padres Jovenes Unidos, Colorado PTA and Colorado Education Association.
HB19-1194 was approved on a bipartisan vote of 11-2 and now heads to the House floor.