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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Prohibit School Expulsions for K-2 Students Approved by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to prohibit public and charter schools from expelling students in kindergarten through second grade with certain exceptions was released earlier this week by an Assembly panel.

“Suspensions and expulsions of young students for minor misbehavior is not only a misguided concept, it raises serious concerns about bias” said Vainieri Huttle. “The curtailing of unnecessary suspensions and expulsions for minor misbehavior will provide a benefit to students who are not a threat to others as well as diminish school dropout and crime rate that often follow disciplinary removal from school.”

Current law outlines the types of conduct that may constitute good cause for the suspension or expulsion of a student from school. This bill would place limits on expulsions and suspensions for students enrolled in preschool through second grade in a school district or charter school.

Under the bill (A-3790), students in kindergarten through second grade may not be expelled from school, except as provided pursuant to the “Zero Tolerance for Guns Act.”

The bill would also prohibit out-of-school suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade, except when the suspension is based on conduct that is of a violent or sexual nature that endangers others. In addition, the bill would prohibit all suspensions for preschool students and would provide that preschool students may not be expelled, except as provided pursuant to the “Zero Tolerance for Guns Act.”

Lastly, the bill would require school districts and charter schools to implement an early detection and prevention program to identify students in preschool through grade two who are experiencing behavioral or disciplinary problems, and provide behavioral supports for these students.

These supports may include, but need not be limited to, remediation of problem behaviors, positive reinforcements, supportive interventions, and referral services. An early detection and prevention program may be incorporated into the system of intervention and referral services that is required to be established in each school under current State Board of Education regulations.

The bill would take effect in the first full school year following the date of enactment.

The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee on June 20.