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Willful Defiance Will No Longer Be A Source of Suspension

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On September 9th Governor Newsom signed California Senate Bill 419 into law. The bill helps ensure that more students stay in school by prohibiting suspensions and expulsions for students (grades K-8) for “willful defiance”.  The term “willful defiance” has been a catch all used by educators to suspend and expel students that are perceived as disruptive in school and has been used disproportionately on students of color, LGBTQ students, and students with special needs. Willful defiance has been one of the most common reasons for suspension and expulsion and by eliminating it more students will remain in school to continue their education. In 2013 California legislature placed a moratorium willful defiance suspension in grades K-5, which expired in 2018. SB 419 makes that ban permanent and extends the ban to grades 6-8. During the moratorium overall suspensions and expulsions declined throughout the state. We know that students must be in school in order to learn and that higher educational attainment is linked to health outcomes over the life course. Get Healthy SMC and the San Mateo County Office of Education are supporting implementation of Restorative Justice Practices as an approach that schools can use to proactively create a positive school climate and to address behavioral infractions without exclusionary discipline methods like suspension and expulsion.

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