DC council member proposes bill to limit suspensions on students

A D.C. council member wants to limit the ability of school leaders to suspend and expel students.

David Grosso said there are too many suspensions in D.C. schools and he believes the punishment is hurting more than helping. There are about 10,000 suspensions a year in city schools, according to the council member.

His bill will put guidelines into place that would prevent suspensions and expulsions in many areas.

The proposed bill would prohibit suspension and expulsion for students between pre-kindergarten and eighth grade unless in cases of physical or emotional harm.

High schools would still be able to suspend students, but not for tardiness, uniform violations or behavior issues that includes shouting profanity at teachers and incidents that happen off-campus.

The bill would place limits on expulsions except for cases that involve physical or emotional injury.

The proposal would also order schools to continue educational efforts while the student is suspended.

"The reality is we know this from the data, we know that when you get suspended, you are more likely to be suspended again in the future," said Councilmember Grosso. "We also know that you are more likely to run into trouble with the law, end up even in jail at some point and not graduate from high school - all the negative indicators."

"No school wants to kick a kid out of school," said Michael Musante, director of government relations for Friends of Choice in Urban Schools (FOCUS), an organization that represents charter schools. "However, there are certain circumstances where that is necessary for the safety of all the children, the school and the adults who are trying to educate them."

Grosso is known for introducing laws and making suggestions that raise a lot of eyebrows. He recently proposed legislation to decriminalize prostitution in the city. He also made a comment several years ago about taking guns away from police officers, but that was never put into legislation.

The first public hearing on this school discipline issue kicks off in January.