California Extends Ban On Suspensions for Elementary and Middle School Students

The new law, Senate Bill 419, takes effect July 1 of next year. Teachers can still remove students from the classroom for willful defiance, but they could not be suspended.

Let’s face it. If you can’t deal with a 4th grader falling asleep in class, or chewing gum or an occasional sass, please stop teaching! Kudos to the California legislature for getting this one right.  

Governor Newsom signed SB 419 into law this week. It’s not what you think. First of all. It only applies to grades 4-8 since K-3 already has a ban on suspension for willful defiance. So SB 419 will make the ban on suspension applicable to students in grades K-8.

Now, if you are a teacher and you believe this ban is outrageous you should probably NOT be teaching. It’s not for you. Kids are willfully defiant at times. Deal with it.  

The types of things that kids were getting suspended for was literally as insignificant as gum chewing, falling asleep in class, staring off into space (yes), refusing to do classwork, etc.  Do you see why the punishment did not fit the crime? In addition to the frivolity of it, there is no evidence that suspension is even effective in these cases. Often, the same kids would repeat the same attitudes and behaviors!   

Teachers will need to reevaluate their classroom management skills and up their management skills!  Having been the queen of classroom management (I ran a tight ship with little room for misbehaving), I can recommend a tested and true management method. Harry Wong did it for me.  If a teacher is serious about running a highly effective and well-managed classroom, the Harry Wong method is the best way to get there. It is also important to remember that kids in your care need and deserve respect. Disrespectful teachers often reap what they sow. 

Willful defiance is arbitrary and unfair to kids. What it means to one teacher may not be what it means to another. This sends mixed signals to kids about tolerable behavior. No one is saying that kids will not be disciplined. They will. But is suspension really discipline anyway? I haven’t seen the data to support as much. Buck up teachers, it’s time to bring your management game!  

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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