New Virginia bills could change school suspension policies

By  | 

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- Several bills going through the 2017 session of the General Assembly are focused on school discipline: in particular, school suspensions.

House Bill number 1534, proposed by Delegate Dickie Bell, would change the amount of time a student can be suspended from school. Right now in Virginia, a student can be suspended for anywhere from 10 to 365 days. If the bill passes, students will only be allowed a suspension from 11 to 45 days.

Harrisonburg Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner says Harrisonburg City Schools are already moving in the direction of reducing suspensions and expulsions.

"At one hand I'm supportive of the notion to try to keep kids in school," Kizner said. "Reducing long-term suspension on the other hand, I hope these same General Assembly members will be sponsoring legislation to help these kids while they're remaining in the school setting."

Another bill, House Bill 1535, would only call for long-term suspensions if the behavior involves physical injury or credible threat of physical injury to another person. It would not include attendance issues or other disorderly behavior.

Kizner says that HB1535 should be looked at a little closer, because some behavior, like drug dealing, could call for long-term suspension.