About California’s Latest School Suspension Bill

Last year, then governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have ended suspensions for unruly kids in California’s elementary and middle schools. With a new governor in town, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and legislative allies are hoping for a different result.

Skinner's SB 419 has passed both the Senate and Assembly and is now headed to Gavin Newsom’s desk. It would extend the current K-3 ban on suspensions for “defiant and disruptive” behavior to grades 4-8. High school students can still be suspended for defiance but they can’t be expelled.

The bill’s advocates say they are mostly driven by concerns about equitable treatment. Studies show minority students are more likely to be suspended than white youth. That remains the case even as schools have experienced a dramatic reduction in school suspensions in recent years.

It’s important to note that SB 419’s provisions do not apply to violent behavior. Students who become violent or are caught bringing drugs or weapons to school can still be suspended.

Newsom has been careful about not showing his hand on SB 419. Sen. Skinner expects him to sign the bill given his longstanding attention to juvenile issues.

If signed, the bill will take effect July 1, 2020 and sunset on July 1, 2025.