Criminalizing kids for minor misbehavior in our schools unnecessarily exposes them to our justice system and increases the likelihood they will drop out of school and face later incarceration. Involvement of all stakeholders, including judicial leaders, is imperative to developing collaborative, multifaceted solutions to this “school-to-prison pipeline.” -Hon. Wallace B. Jefferson Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas
Progress is being made in Texas toward defeating the school-to-prison pipeline. On Monday, House Bill 674 constructed by Representative Eric Johnson of Dallas’s District 100, was passed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.
The law makes it illegal to punish a pre-kindergarten to second grade student with out-of-school suspension, unless the incident involves drugs, weapons, or extreme violence. In addition, in order to keep the young students in school, the piece of legislation also encourages the districts to utilize “research-based positive disciplinary” actions in replacement of out-of-school suspension.
Johnson referenced several facts when advocating for this law. One of the facts includes that when young children are suspended or expelled, they are more likely to “drop out of high school, face incarceration, and repeat grades” later in life. Not to mention, Houston’s Independent School District has already banned discretionary classroom removals for children in the aforementioned grade levels.
Representative Johnson praised the governor’s signing of the bill, stating, “I’m very pleased that Governor Abbott signed the bill, as opposed to allowing it to become law without his signature.”
The representative continued, “I take this to mean that the governor shares my view that the school-to-prison pipeline is real and that our early childhood educators are our first line of defense against it.”
The state’s representative noted that the passing of the bill “sends a strong message that the state of Texas wants children to be educated and not incarcerated.” The rest of nation can only hope this message becomes a trend that catches wind with the rest of the 49 states.
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*Portions of this article were curated from vibe.com (by Ashley Pickens)