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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 24, 2021 10:46 AM
From: Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Out of School Suspension
Every day, students across the Commonwealth are either suspended or expelled from school as a form of punishment. However, rather than quelling the behavior that led to the expulsion or suspension, these types of punishment exacerbate behavioral problems and lead to academic setbacks. This is inappropriate and unfair. 

My bill takes a comprehensive approach to leveling the playing field by eliminating suspensions and expulsions as an option for students in grades k through 5 and restricting the exception to this provision to the possession of a firearm. For students in grades 6 through 12, where a suspension and expulsion would still be allowed, but it would be only for the most serious offenses and only after documented behavioral supports have failed. Additionally, the Department of Education will be required to aid school districts with the development of student codes of conduct that reflect best practices to reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions.

Providing students with one day or multiple days off from school often leaves children unsupervised at home and unable to learn appropriate behavior. This legislation would encourage school directors, teachers and principals to reevaluate student disciplinary actions. It will also serve as a means to negate the unfairly applied out-of-school suspension, where minority youth are suspended at greater rates than non-minority youth.
Additionally, I will be including $75 million of $7 billion Pennsylvania will be receiving through the American Rescue Plan to help school districts hire the help they will need to effectuate this initiative. 

Please join me in supporting this legislation to help reduce the number of students that receive out-of-school suspension and to encourage behavioral and academic growth throughout the Commonwealth.

Introduced as HB1708