National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Keep Kids in School Act
SB 607

California issues more suspensions than high school diplomas each year. Some schools suspend more than one out of every four students. California Senate Bill 607  would limit the use of suspensions for any student who has “disrupted school activities or otherwise willfully defied the valid authority” of school personnel. SB 607 eliminates the most extreme uses of “disruption” and “willful defiance by prohibiting expulsion from school for these subjective reasons. Further the bill permanently restricts expelling students from an entire school district for minor misbehavior.

Student suspensions in California have steadily declined since the U.S. Department of Education highlighted the inequitable and harmful impact of subjective suspension policies. Yet students of color, students with disabilities, and students who identify as LGBTQ or gender non-conforming are still disproportionately disciplined, particularly for disruption/defiance.

In 2013 the Legislature passed AB 420 to eliminate the suspension of students in grades K through 3rd. Since AB 420 passed, suspensions in elementary schools dropped 60%. Between 2013-2015, more than 15,000 suspensions of K-3 students were prevented, incentivizing schools and districts to adopt alternatives to suspensions and expulsions and keep students in schools.

SB 607 eliminates the sunset clause in AB 420 and expands its protections to students in grades K through 12 accused of defiance or disruption.