EDUCATION Sensible discipline
Stories about school administrators wildly overreacting to minor offenses (and even less — remember the Pop Tart “gun”?) have grown tiresomely familiar. Two state lawmakers want to do something about them.
State Sen. Bill Stanley has proposed three bills that would shorten the length of long-term suspensions, ban such suspensions and expulsions except in the most serious instances, and prohibit both before the sixth grade except, again, in dire circumstances.
In the House, Del. Mike Mullin is introducing a measure stipulating that school principals must exhaust other alternatives before they call the police on a student who is acting up. The police would still be summoned for assaults and threats, but not for every little outburst.
“I see a lot of disorderly conduct,” Mullin told the Daily Press. “That’s what you charge when there’s really nothing else to charge.”
The two men are nobody’s idea of a bleeding-heart liberal. Stanley is a Republican who gets very high marks from conservative advocacy groups. Mullin, a Democrat, is an assistant prosecutor. And they are not dreaming up “brochure bills” to solve nonexistent problems. Virginia leads the nation in the percentage of students referred to law enforcement for acting out in school.
Schools need to maintain order in the classroom — and they need to keep students safe throughout the day. Most of the time, they can achieve those goals without going to DEFCON 1. The proposals from Stanley and Mullin could help ensure they don’t have to.