Trustees track student discipline legislation in workshop

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The Carson City School District awaits word from Nevada’s Legislative Counsel Bureau to direct staff on two bills related to student disciplinary practices and bullying prevention.

The district’s school board received a presentation from legal counsel Ann Alexander and Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Tasha Fuson during a workshop on April 9. The workshop was held to discuss procedures for addressing student discipline including bullying and cyberbullying as a result of the past three legislative sessions in 2019, 2021 and 2023.

Alexander, who has been tracking the issue since the 1990s, said there has been “an explosion” in new requirements since 2019 that require school districts to provide more care in the treatment of general and special education students’ behavioral issues.

“I want to commend you for the detail and the level of interest you continue to show for getting the requirements right because it supports your mission as a board,” Alexander told trustees.

She provided a history of the statutory requirements for disciplinary removals prior to 2019 based on legal language, which before then required no age limitations for disciplinary removals, including out-of-school suspensions, expulsions or permanent expulsions.

Interest in student discipline grew in 2019 with former Sen. Tyrone Thompson, who advocated for more equitable practices, Alexander said. The imposition of age limitations for disciplinary practices began in the 80th session of the Legislature. Examples of conduct-specific provisions imposed suspensions, expulsions or permanent expulsions at age 11 for students in possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon at school. School boards could approve permanent expulsion for students younger than 11 in extraordinary circumstances, Alexander said.

By 2021, provisions had been added and took effect July 1, and new language helped to clean up what took place in 2019. Provisions had been added to keep students from being removed from the classroom without a student-level restorative justice plan. State leaders realized students needed to be in the classroom, Alexander said.

Fuson said the Carson City School District at this point added in an extra step and provided a short-term suspension, giving staff the authority to discipline students and allowed students to return to the classroom sooner for an occurrence of misconduct.

By 2023, Assembly Bills 285 and 330 had been proposed that wound up conflicting with the other. AB285 would seek to remove or suspend a student for violent behavior or possession or drugs or possibly to reinstate an expelled student after at least one year away from school. AB330 focuses more on restorative disciplinary practices and allow teachers to remove a student from the classroom, require suspension or expulsion and align charter schools’ practices with public schools.

Trustee Joe Cacioppo asked about the confusion in the language within these bills since it had appeared rural districts are not honoring the most recent legislation.

Ultimately, Alexander said, there likely would be a merging of the two bills that have yet to be codified.

Fuson said the district will hold another board workshop in May at which mental health and academic issues will be examined as part of the disciplinary issue.

Board members agreed it was important for school districts to oversee.

“There’s always holes in the armor,” Cacioppo said. “There’s punishment that might have gone too severe or not severe enough that we wish, ‘How do you protect those kids?’ So just understanding what can we do as a district that doesn’t get us in trouble with the state or the federal regulations — what can we control?”


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