Action Alert from CT Juvenile Justice Alliance on School Based Arrest Public Hearing
As promised, here are fact sheets and additional talking points (huge thanks to Edie at CT Voices!) on the two school discipline bills, HB 6834 and HB 6837. The Education Committee hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 25 at 12:00 PM in Room 2E of the LOB. We are supportive of both bills and would encourage you to either submit written testimony or to testify in person to make your support known.
Both bills do the same thing generally: they both define school-based arrest, both require that arrest data be made transparent and public in strategic school profiles, and both require that districts with school resource officers have a memorandum of agreement between the school board and local law enforcement agency. These are the reforms we have been fighting for years, and we are confident this is the year they will pass!
There are minor differences between the bills, and both the Alliance and Voices supports elements of each of them.
In your testimony, Voices suggest that you support:
That the memorandum of agreement "Shall [not may] include...a graduated response model for student discipline" (as 6837 indicates in Section 1, but not 6834). The graduated response model is a critical component of ensuring that students are disciplined fairly and equitably.
The disaggregation of arrest data by "school, race, ethnicity, gender, age, students with disabilities and type of offense for which the school-based arrests were made and the number of arrests made annually at each school within the school district," (as 6834 includes in section Section 2, but not 6837). This is important because as we know, there are vast disparities and inequities in ways in which students of color and students with disabilities are disciplined, and it is imperative to track these disparities in order to work on reducing them.
The disaggregation of arrest data by free or reduced price lunch status, and English Language Learner Status. (Neither of the bills currently include this, and we will be suggesting this as an amendment.)
In addition to the publishing of data on strategic school profiles, the Department of Education shall annually examine data relating to in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and expulsion and submit a report to the State Board of Education regarding this examination (as 6837 Section 2b indicates, but not 6834).
The clear definitions of not only school-based arrest, but "student," "school property," "school day," and "school-sponsored event" included in the bill language itself (as 6837 includes as Section 2, and not as its own separate section in 6834.) The definitions of school-based arrest are the same for both bills, but we like the transparency and clarity that 6837 offers in having its own definitional section.
We wanted to get this out to you ASAP, so we've included the Alliance's testimony from last year on a very similar bill as a reference, as well as the fact sheet on school discipline from CT Voice's recently released report and executive summary.
Also, please keep an eye out for talking points on the DCF's budget hearing scheduled for Friday - we will be getting those out to you soon.