House School Discipline Bill Met With Concerns

Jan 30, 2018

Some educators and teachers are pushing for changes in school discipline practices, but a bill considered in the House Education Committee Tuesday was not received well by all members.

HB 1421 aims to reduce things like expulsion or suspension in all Hoosier schools. Supporters of the legislation, like Darreyel Laster, from pilotED Schools, says positive discipline is more effective, and should be used everywhere.

“We can no longer exclude, suspend and expel students with the hope that they will return to the classroom as better human beings,” Laster says.

The bill says schools should look for ways to discipline misbehaving students through restoration practices, like conflict resolution. The bill also requires schools to address traumatic stress for students who have had adverse childhood experiences.

Many supporters say state law should reflect positive discipline standards, but a handful of school administrators at the bill’s hearing say some schools already use positive, restorative practices, and question why the state needs to step in.

Committee members also raised concerns about forcing schools into certain practices without providing enough resources for schools – Vice Chair Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero), was one of them.

“I don’t think this is something we need to dictate from top down. Most educators I think are doing this now,” Cook says.

People opposed to the bill added that a new law could take discipline power away from teachers and school administrators.

The committee was split on the vote, but approved the legislation 8 to 5.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Darreyel Laster’s name and capitalized the first letter of pilotED Schools. It has been corrected.