Talking back and violating dress codes – those are two examples of so called “willful defiance.” Former State Assemblymember Roger Dickinson says schools have disproportionately punished minorities for those offenses.
“Often times," says Dickinson, "students of color or who are disabled or who identified as LGBT were treated much more harshly, with respect to discipline, than other students.”
The new law written by Dickinson, a Democrat, bans willful defiance suspensions against kids in kindergarten through third grade.
Dickinson says suspended kids are two times more likely to drop out and five times more likely to turn to crime. He says the law is intended to change that. “My expectation is that we keep kids in school," says Dickinton, "and that, as we evaluate this in the years ahead, we expand this direction for students in higher level grades.”
The law will expire in three years.
Critics of the new law say willfully defiant students disrupt classrooms and make it harder for other students to learn.