Bipartisan Vote Moves Weber School Safety Bill from Committee
SACRAMENTO – With unanimous bipartisan support, the Assembly Committee on Education passed legislation Wednesday to better ensure the safety of students by addressing the underlying causes of school violence and disruptive behavior. AB 1029, authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego), would require the inclusion of one or more individuals with expertise in in social-emotional health issues of children and youth, such as restorative justice practitioner, a community schools coordinator or a mental health professional on a school safety committee.
“School violence has become intolerably commonplace,” Weber said. “Overly-punitive approaches will not work on their own to solve the problem, so we need to start considering ways of addressing the underlying causes and confront the problem using best practices with proven track records of success. Both the community schools and restorative justice approaches offer a way for the perpetrators to take responsibility, reduce the reoccurrence of violent and disruptive behaviors and move them toward performing better in school and becoming productive members of society.”
“In order for students to be successful, schools must be environments where they feel safe. School communities should be places of respect that are free of violence, intimidation and disruptions,” said Ron Rapp, Legislative Director for the bill’s sponsor California Federation of Teachers. “Research shows that students who are harassed or bullied are more likely to demonstrate low academic performance, be truant, drop out of school and exhibit violent behavior themselves. Assembly Bill 1029 will provide educators with the tools and training they need to create a positive school climate and reduce violence and disruptive behavior in our schools.”
A study of restorative justice practices in Oakland Unified School District found reductions in suspension rates for African American students by 40% and improved academic outcomes, and reduced school violence. The community schools model emphasizes the building of partnerships among educators, parents, school districts, businesses, social services and other nonprofit organizations in order to coordinate services students need to be academically successful and to develop into contributing members of their community.
AB 1029 also requires the California Department of Education to identify best practices for reducing school violence and disruptive behavior on its website and provides educators and administrators with professional development to reduce truancy, dropout rates, suspensions, expulsions and disruptive behavior in schools.
AB 1029 is supported by the ACLU of California, the Partnership for Children and Youth, the California Catholic Conference, the Coalition for Restorative Schools, Courage Campaign, Public Counsel, and California Association of Social Workers.
The bill moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration in the next few weeks.