LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada lawmakers are again debating student discipline and ways to give teachers more freedom to suspend or expel students.
It’s part of a continuing effort to change the 2019 Restorative Justice law.
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo pitched Assembly Bill 330 to lawmakers on Thursday.
“I believe that AB168, while well intended, has led to this increase in dangerous situations in schools across the state. It handcuffs teachers and administrators,” Lombardo said before the Assembly Education Committee.
The governor’s bill, which is called the Safer and Supportive Schools Act, would make restorative justice in Nevada schools an option, not a requirement, as it is now.
Furthermore, it allows for expelling students who assault staff or sell drugs, as well as for the temporary removal of a problem student.
Some teachers and administrators spoke in support of Gov. Lombardo’s bill.
“The culture in these schools has gotten out of hand in terms of student behavior and what we have seen is an escalation of violence,” John Vellerdita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association said.
The pushback on restorative justice came after several high-profile incidents in the Clark County School District, including one of a student who reportedly sexually assaulted a teacher at Eldorado High School.
One of the intentions of the 2019 bill was to decrease student suspensions and the disproportionate number of Black and Hispanic students being disciplined.
Yet data released from CCSD show that this school year, the district suspended nearly 15,000 students in the first semester.
This is in comparison to the 2018-2019 school year where 12,631 students were suspended in the first semester and 11,882 in the 2021-2022 school year for the same period.
The data from 2019 to 2021 is not comparative since students were in distance learning during part of that time due to the pandemic.
Some people also traveled to Carson City to share their opposition to AB330 and to change the state’s current Restorative Justice framework.
“Where will these expelled and elementary students, where will they go? I did not hear an answer because there are no alternative schools. They will go to their homes,” Jonathan Norman of the Nevada Coalition of Legal Service Providers said.
The governor’s proposal would give school districts the power to expel students younger than the age of 11, and it also applies to charter and university schools.
According to Gov. Lombardo, there’s been a 46% increase in violence and sexual assault reported at CCSD schools since 2019.