H247 is an education bill with two provisions that will allow schools to enact discipline policies that discriminate based on race and disability. DRNC, in collaboration with the Education Justice Alliance, sent a letter signed by over 90 organizations and advocates to legislators earlier this week to urge them to vote against H247.
Two concerning provisions
1. H247 permits public schools to create discipline policies that will exclude students from the school buildings for minor misconduct. Currently, long-term suspensions (10 days or more) are restricted for “serious violations.” State law specifically gives examples of violations that are not considered serious:
- Dress code violations
- Disrespectful language
- “Defiant behavior”
H247 removes those examples, leaving it up to individual school districts to decide whether behavior is serious enough to warrant a child’s removal from school for 10 or more days.
2. Another provision promotes using law enforcement in creating school discipline policies, directing that student codes of conduct will be created by school boards “in consultation with teachers, school-based administrators, parents, and local law enforcement agencies.” Adding law enforcement agencies in the creation of school codes of conduct is concerning because it has the potential to further blur the lines between criminal codes and school codes of conduct. It would also lead to police intervention in school discipline matters rather than in criminal matters that truly impact student safety.
Contact your legislators and tell them to #StopH247!
How would H247 impact students?
Current law protects students by giving specific examples of behaviors that should not be considered “serious violations.” If this bill passes, these minor violations, which are highly subjective, would become eligible for long-term suspensions. One 10-day suspension (the minimum length of a long-term suspension) is five percent of the school year.
Already, Black students and students with disabilities are being suspended at significantly higher rates than White students. Black students are also punished more severely than white students for similar behaviors. Disproportionality exists in our schools even though Black and white students misbehave at similar rates.
Currently, Black students with disabilities make up 31% of all students with IEPs in NC. Yet, those same students received over 63% of all long-term suspensions & expulsions. On the other hand, white students with disabilities make up 45%, but received only 20% of long-term suspensions and expulsions.
Students with disabilities (of any race) make up less than 13% of the student body in schools. However, they receive 24% of short-term suspensions and 17% of long term-suspensions.
Allowing schools to change the punishment for minor infractions from short-term to long-term suspensions will cause Black students and students with disabilities to miss even more school.
This bill will put more children at risk of entering the School-to-Prison Pipeline – or dropping out altogether.
Using law enforcement in school discipline is harmful
Additionally, overreliance on law enforcement in schools leads to students being criminalized for minor behaviors. It can push kids unnecessarily into the criminal justice system for behaviors directly related to their disability. It also exposes kids, especially Black students with disabilities, to potential police brutality.
You can help
Help stop discrimination in NC schools. Contact your legislators and tell them to oppose H247.