Lawmakers still considering school discipline bills

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 3:24 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Two months ago, Governor Lombardo made a rare appearance at the Nevada legislature. In front of the Assembly Education Committee, he testified in favor of his bill, AB 330.

The Governor said his school discipline bill was his response to the “Restorative Justice Bill” passed in 2019.

“While well intended it has led to this increase in dangerous situations in schools across the state,” said the Governor. “It handcuffs teachers and administrators leaving them powerless to address habitually misbehaving and violent students.”

“Restorative Justice” is a concept where a response to a crime is met with a meeting between victim and offender, and sometimes other interested parties. It can also include traditional methods of retribution.

Assemblywoman Angie Taylor says the 2019 bill was well meaning. However, schools were not given enough time to implement such a concept into their facilities.

“It went into effect in July 2019,” says Taylor. “Well school starts in August. Oh, shoot this means we can’t suspend kids anymore. Which is not what “Restorative Justice” means at all. But that is what ended up happening.”

Taylor’s Bill AB 285 hopes to address school violence with “Restorative Justice.” But she says she wants to include training to all schools over a four-year period to make it work.

“There should be discipline for that child,” says Taylor. “He must take responsibility for his or her actions. The victim needs to be involved. There needs to be healing for that. We also need to find out what is going on in that child’s life. Let’s take a look and see what is impacting that behavior. There is discipline for that behavior. There is taking responsibility for their actions.”

Taylor says her bill has the backing of teachers, administrators, and principals across the state.

Governor Lombardo says his assembly bill has the same support. AB 330 does not address “Restorative Justice.” Instead, it is called the “Safer and Supportive Schools Act.” It allows teachers to remove unruly students from the classroom. It requires charter school’s suspension and expulsion protocols to come in line with those set down in public schools, and requires state and local superintendents to increase accountability.

“Every child should be given the opportunity to stay in school. But violent students will not be tolerated,” says the Governor.

Assemblywoman Taylor does not disagree with student accountability and opportunity. These concepts are part of her bill as well. Depending upon the infraction, AB 285 calls for a two-day suspension before an action plan takes place.

“That child is going to get suspended or longer based upon the situation,” says Taylor.

Taylor says while some have described her bill as simply a “meeting” that is not the case.

The Governor’s bill calls for a five-day suspension before an appeal can take place, and a method to determine what should happen next. This could include alternative placement to prevent the pupil from losing academic credit.

While her bill calls for the same thing, Taylor says it just gets there in a different way.

“We don’t get to throw kids away,” she says. Taylor says she doesn’t like the idea that her bill has been pitted against the Governor’s. That was not her intention. She says she’s not opposed to having the two bills melded in a meaningful way.

We attempted to contact the Governor’s office about AB 330, but received no response.

With less than two weeks left this legislative session, no one is predicting which one of these bills will make it to the Governor’s desk.

But no doubt, school administrators and teachers would like something done because as they say, school violence is not going away.