Bill to bar 'willful defiance' in California public schools clears both houses

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A bill to bar suspension of students for low-level behavior issues known as "willful defiance" in California’s public schools through 12th grade passed both houses in the Legislature this week.

Historically in California and around the nation, willful defiance suspensions tend to be levied for low-level disruptions, such as a student wearing a hat backward, falling asleep in class, or "talking back to a teacher," and have been disproportionately directed at students of color, LGBTQ students, students who are homeless or in foster care, and those with disabilities.

The bill's author, state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said the goal of the bill is to prevent kids from getting kicked out of school as punishment. 

"SB 274 is based on a simple premise: Students belong in school," Skinner said in a statement on Wednesday. "Suspending students, no matter what the age, fails to improve student behavior and greatly increases the likelihood that the student will fail classes or drop out of school completely."

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