End Pre-K to 2nd Grade Suspensions!

Ask the Senate to Vote Yes on HB 674!

In Texas, our youngest school children are at risk of being suspended or expelled. Texas Appleseed reports more than 25,000 Pre-k to 2nd grade students were suspended in the 2015 to 2016 school year. With no limit on the number of suspensions per child, some were subjected to out-of-school suspensions multiple times. According to one mother of a 10-year-old student, her child was suspended more than 40 times while in kindergarten.

Suspensions are unnecessary for minor violations

Out-of-school suspensions are discretionary and are not required by law, yet the Student Code of Conduct outlines numerous vague and trivial reasons for placing students in OSS. These include:

  • insubordination
  • violation of dress code and grooming standards
  • horseplay
  • inappropriate language
  • persistent misbehavior
  • classroom disruption
  • defiance
  • posturing

Texas has 180 days in its school year. With 25,000 suspensions in that window, our educators averaged 138 suspensions per day just for 4- to 7-year-olds, often for the minor and fixable issues listed above.

Suspensions are harmful and ineffective

Students who are placed in out-of-school suspension feel the impact of academic exclusion in multiple ways. They miss school days and quickly fall behind from the lack of important instruction and support. These children hold negative feelings toward school because of the initial suspension and the struggle of getting back up to speed after their suspension.

Not only do they lose pace with the rest of the class, kids who experience OSS are often labeled as “problem children” by their teachers and classmates. One mistake or insignificant infraction leads to ostracism that’s difficult to peel away from for young students.

We’d be remiss to overlook the at-home impact OSS has on families. Working parents must rearrange schedules to be at home with their young children, and this can cause financial distress and undue burden on household dynamics.

Studies find that the culmination of this experience makes them 10 times more likely to fail out of high school, underperform academically, and face incarceration.

Some students are disproportionately impacted

Black children account for 13% of elementary school enrollment but 42% of one-time suspensions and 48% of students suspended multiples times. Special education students make up 9% of elementary student population yet account for 22% of suspensions. Boys number 51% of the population and 84% of the suspensions. Implicit biases on the part of educators are in large part due to these skewed suspension rates.

How to fix the problem

There’s a solution at the capitol at this very moment. Rep. Eric Johnson filed HB 674 to end suspensions for Pre-K to 2nd grade students, and the bill is set for a vote by the full Senate. This Legislature can vote to keep our youngest school kids in class, where they belong, instead of isolating them in out-of-school suspension.