Education Committee approves bill that would allow elementary students to get suspended

Posted at 2:36 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-13 15:36:18-05

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A Senate Education Committee approved a measure Monday that would lower the grade level from sixth to third at which students can receive an out-of-school suspension.

Senate Bill 81, authored by retired educator Sen. Ron Sharp, was requested by the Professional Oklahoma Educators, who told Sharp of increasing reports of violent elementary students.

“Teachers aren’t licensed counselors but every day they’re faced with children acting out from abuse, divorces, neglect and other issues, and it’s happening in elementary schools,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Not only is this a distraction in the classroom but it can also be dangerous when children act out in rage overturning chairs, tables and in some cases hitting, shoving or in some other way assaulting others or threatening to harm them.  We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our classrooms and allowing out-of-school suspensions is one of the ways we can do that.”

The bill would allow third- to fifth-graders to be suspended if they "assault, attempt to cause physical bodily injury, or act in a manner that could reasonably cause bodily injury to an education employee or a person who is volunteering for the school," according to a press release. Sixth- to 12th-graders are already subject to the suspension.

Next, the bill will be heard by the full Senate.

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