BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – LA HB222 made its way out of the Education Committee on Tuesday and could rewrite the way Louisiana’s schools deal with suspensions and expulsions in public schools.

State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle authored the bill and below you will find a breakdown of what present law dictates and what the proposed bill would enact if passed by the legislature.

  • Present law provides for discipline of students, including suspension and expulsion, in public elementary and secondary schools. Provides actions for which a student may be suspended or expelled and procedures related to such disciplinary measures.
  • Proposed law generally retains present law as applicable to students in grades nine through Provides that a student in grades pre-K through eight may be suspended only for acting in a way that is intended to cause significant bodily harm or emotional distress to another person.
  • Proposed law requires, prior to any out-of-school suspension, assignment to alternative placement, or expulsion, that the student be assessed using an instrument approved by the La. Dept. of Health that is designed to determine if the student has experienced trauma. Requires that the results be used to determine whether the student’s behavior may be better addressed in another manner.
  • Present law prohibits suspension of students in grades pre-K through five for uniform violations. Proposed law makes the prohibition applicable to all students.

So what prompted Rep. Marcelle to put this bill together?

Advocates in the field, including the Louisiana Center for Health Equity are concerned about the ‘worsening situation’ for young people in the state.

The Louisiana Center for Health Equity “hopes to modify disciplinary policies in Louisiana’s schools towards public health trauma-informed services and less punitive out-of-school disciplinary actions.”

Instead of treating some students like ‘bad children,’ the bill aims to change the way we interact with troubled youth.

HB222 is currently awaiting final passage in the Louisiana House of Representatives.