Bill dealing with student discipline passes Ky. House committee

Bill dealing with student discipline passes Ky. House committee
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:56 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Four more bills moved out of the House Education Committee in Frankfort Tuesday morning, but not all went without opposition.

One of those bills, House Bill 538, deals with student discipline. It would require a board of education to expel a student for at least 12 months if they make threats that pose a danger to staff or other students.

Committee Vice Chair Timmy Truett sponsored the bill. Truett explained the student could be put in an alternative education setting, like virtual learning, in place of that expulsion.

“The goal of this is to empower teachers, to control what happens inside their classroom,” said Rep. Truett, R-McKee.

It also requires a policy be put in place to discipline students who assault others on off-campus property.

Louisville teacher and Louisville Metro Councilman Kumar Rashad spoke against the bill because of its potential impact on students of color.

“We are disproportionately represented when it comes to disciplinary issues, and we have to be really careful,” said Rashad. “When we talk about expelling the student for a whole year, that’s going to send these students out on the street. You want crime to go up? That’ll do it.”

That testimony from Rashad brought on conversation and concern from some in the committee. Rep. Felicia Rabourn, R-Pendleton, questioned the constitutionality of some of the language in this bill.

Rabourn took particular issue with the requirement that a board disciplines a student for something which happens off-campus.

“To go out and to police after school hours, that’s not their job,” said Rep. Rabourn. “The schools have a big enough job as it is.”

House Bill 538 ultimately passed by a vote of 17-4, it will move on to the full House floor, along with bills 288, 331, and 421.

“Is this a perfect bill? No, it’s not,” said Rep. Truett. “But I think it’s a step in the right direction. My goal is not to expel more students. My goal is bring more safety to the classroom.”

Committee Chair Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, sponsored House Bill 288. It would require Kentucky teachers accused of sexual misconduct to disclose more information.

House Bill 331 would require AED units in each of Kentucky’s public middle and high schools.

Both of those bills passed unanimously.

HB 421 has to do with a school board’s options around road improvements and other construction.