House passes bill to reduce maximum length of long-term suspensions

virginia general assemblyIn a major step toward dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, the House today passed Delegate Jeff Bourne’s bill to cut the maximum length of school suspensions from 364 to 45 days, with certain exceptions.

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support on a 84-15 vote.

Highlighting how long-term suspensions disproportionately harm students of color and students with disabilities, Delegate Bourne said, “African-American students are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended, students with disabilities were 2.4 times more likely to be suspended, and an African-American male student with a disability was 20 times more likely to get suspended than a white female student with no disability. We have to do better by Virginia students of color and students with disabilities.”

Bourne continued, “the bottom line is, we cannot keep using access, or the lack thereof to education, as a punishment and continue to expect positive results. We will never be able to close the achievement gap if we continue down this path of disparate expulsion. This bill will allow us to drastically reform the way we treat our students with disciplinary issues and get them the help they need and on the track to success.”

Delegate Bourne built coalitions among stakeholders and worked across the aisle to make sure this important measure passed.

The bill now advances to the Senate.

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