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Proposed law could end suspensions, expulsions

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BATON ROUGE - One state lawmaker is proposing a bill that would no longer kick kids out of school in the state.

Senator Sharon Weston-Broome(D-Baton Rouge) filed SB54, which would to prohibit any school from suspending or expelling children from kindergarten through third grade.

"I firmly believe that we need to keep children in school as much as possible, especially young children," she said.

Last year, close to 7,000 children between kindergarten and third grade were suspended in Louisiana and fewer than 30 were expelled according to the Louisiana Department of Education. The senator's bill would let schools decide how to deal with most troublemakers on a case-by-case basis. It would not protect kids that pose a threat to the safety or physical well-being of another person.

"I actually have a child that had behavior problems, that did get put out in that age category, and it didn't help her at all, it just alienated her," said Bridget Eagles, who has three children in elementary schools in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Broome's worried many kids in that age group do not understand right from wrong enough to understand that being kept home from school is a punishment, not a reward. She says dealing with troublemakers while still at school might be better able to teach lasting lessons.

"We want to give administrators an opportunity to use some of their discretion, but even more importantly we want to work toward providing a setting where administrators can address issues from kindergarteners up to three graders within the confinement of the school system," said Senator Weston-Broome.

The Senate and House education committees will take up the bill once the legislative session starts in a few weeks.



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