CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – The Senate passed a bill to deal with student discipline in grades K-6 during Monday morning’s floor session.
Senate Bill 614 would require students in kindergarten through sixth grade whose behavior in the classroom is deemed violent, threatening or intimidating toward staff or fellow students and impedes the learning environment, to be placed in a county behavioral intervention program.
If a county doesn’t have such a program, which is the case in 34 of West Virginia’s 55 counties, the student would be placed in a program in a neighboring county.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the student involved would be immediately removed from the classroom, parents would be notified, and the student would be prohibited from riding the bus.
If the student is not picked up by the end of the day, school representatives would notify law enforcement.
Under the bill, the student would be suspended for one to three school days until an alternative learning accommodation is made.
The student would be prohibited from returning to school until a risk assessment is completed by a school psychologist.
Upon completion, the student would return to school on a probationary period between five and 10 days.
If another incident occurs, the student would be placed in an alternative learning environment for the remainder of the semester or school year.
In accordance with the legislation, students would be placed in behavioral intervention programs at the discretion of the teacher, principal and vice principal.
If there is a disagreement between the teacher and administrators, a teacher can appeal to the county superintendent.
Senator Mike Woelfel (D – Cabell, 05) echoed some of the questions on the floor today that came up last week in the Senate Education Committee.
He noted there is no funding mechanism in the bill while also pointing out that some terms in the bill could be interpreted broadly.
Senator Amy Grady, (R-Mason, 04) has been working on this legislation for months, talking with other teachers, union representatives and officials with the state Department of Education who have been working on student discipline issues and disparities since last year.
Grady has previously stated that student disciplinary issues have been one of the main drivers of teachers quitting the profession.
In response to Woelfel’s questions, she noted that teachers make hundreds of decisions a day and reiterated her belief that they should be trusted to determine what student behaviors are truly threatening.
Grady also mentioned that while she would welcome funding for various provisions in the bill, she doesn’t believe it is necessary to get this program started.
She assured members that if it becomes clear funding is needed for successful implementation of this legislation, she would work to secure it.