ED­U­CA­TION Sen­si­ble dis­ci­pline

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

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.

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