City education advocates praised a bill signed into law by Governor Chris Christie last Tuesday that limits expulsions and suspensions of students in preschool up to second grade.
Under this law, students in kindergarten through second grade cannot be expelled from school. It also prohibits out-of-school suspensions for students in kindergarten through second grade. There’s also a prohibition on preschool student suspension and expulsion.
“We were thrilled when Governor Christie signed bill S2081 which limits expulsions or suspensions for student pre-k to 2nd grade,” said Rosie Grant, executive director of the Paterson Education Fund (PEF), and Linda Reid, president of the Parent Education Organizing Council (PEOC), in a joint statement on Monday afternoon. “Kids who are not in school don’t learn. We believe that excessive suspensions boost chronic absenteeism and fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Reid and Grant said the law applies to both district and charter schools. It requires schools to implement positive behavioral supports to prevent behaviors that lead to suspension. This law comes as no surprise to the head of the city’s education advocacy groups.
In 2013, both groups launched “Solutions Not Suspensions” campaign calling for a moratorium on out-of-school suspension for minor infractions. This allowed for a one-year time for the district to develop a new code of conduct reducing the number of infractions that can led to suspension.
In 2014, state-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans implemented a discipline policy that was modeled on the Dignity in Schools Campaign Model Code of Conduct. Assemblyman Benjie Wimberely received praise from the education groups for co-sponsoring the bill in the New Jersey Assembly.
Wimberely represents the 35th Legislative District which contains Paterson.
“Kudos to Paterson for being ahead of the curve!” Reid and Grant said. Both groups are advocating New Jersey’s Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) Plan include climate and safety as a non-academic indicator.
Both groups are hosting an ESSA forum on October 22, 2016 at John F. Kennedy High School. Speakers will come from NJ Department of Education, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and PEF. There will also be a parent, a student, and city’s school superintendent.
Forum begins at 11 a.m. at John F. Kennedy High School.