In-School Suspension Law Should Not Be Delayed

Three years ago, the Connecticut legislature passed a law, Public Act 07-66, to require suspensions of students to occur in school unless “the administration determines that the pupil being suspended poses such a danger to persons or property or such a disruption of the educational process that the pupil shall be excluded from school during the period of suspension.” The law, if implemented, would have limited the use of out-of-school suspensions to those situations in which students truly need to be removed from the school environment. The law, now scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2011, makes sense. Students who violate school policies by doing things like swearing, wearing hats, or being disrespectful cannot be excluded from school while students who pose a danger can. Sadly, implementation of the law has already been delayed twice and the legislature is again considering delay. Why? Because towns and cities have argued that law imposes an unfunded mandate. That is simply not the case. In an op-ed article entitled “Keeping Children Out of School Is Costly To Connecticut”, published on CT News Junkie, Jamey Bell, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children (Voices), and Alexandra Dufresne, a Senior Policy Fellow with Voices and co-author the report “Missing Out: Suspending Students from Connecticut Schools”, make the case that in-school suspension is not a costly unfunded mandate and that keeping children in school is an important part of promoting economic growth in Connecticut. Children belong in school. Implementation of this important law should be delayed no longer.