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A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Two bills under consideration seek to reform how schools and police punish misbehaving students.
The Los Angeles Unified school district isn't the only government body seeking to reduce the number of student suspensions.
The Center for Public Integrity reported in a story today that a bill working its way through the California legislature, AB 420, would limit schools' ability to suspend students for defiance. In 2011-2012, 700,000 California students were suspended -- half of them for defiance.
Advocates have for years complained that minorities are more likely to be suspended than whites, and that a single suspension increases a child's likelihood to drop out of school.
L.A. Unified's board on Tuesday approved a student bill of rights that forbids suspensions for "willful defiance" --which includes mouthing off and not following a teacher's instructions, but can also include dress code violations-- until the third offense.
Another state bill, AB 549, aims to keep police out of routine school disciplinary matters. School police now ticket students for anything from truancy to fighting. These are tickets handed out by school police officers, not suspensions, and require an appearance in court.
KPCC reported last year -- in collaboration with CPI-- that L.A. Unified school police issued more than 33,000 tickets for violations like vandalism, tardiness, and disturbing the peace in a three year period.
Forty percent of those tickets went to kids 14 and younger — mostly middle school students. And minorities received more of them than white students.
L.A. Unified has since instituted reforms, including cutting by more than half the number of kids cited for truancy, from about 17,000 to about 700, officials said.
But minorities still bear the brunt. An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity found that more than 90 percent of the students ticketed between November 2012 and March were either black or Latino. School police ticketed students from Markham and Watts middle schools the most.