Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.
ABLE Fights for Students and Families by Opposing Bad Indefinite Expulsion Bill
Reintroduced earlier this summer in the Ohio legislature, House Bill 206 proposes to change the rules about expelling students from school, allowing long – potentially unending – deprivations of learning. Normally, when a student misbehaves or breaks school rules, they can be suspended or expelled, but those punishments have a time limit. This bill would let schools expel students, and then extend the expulsion over and over – forever. It also places a great deal of control with the school’s superintendent. Most critically, HB 206 presents significant risks to marginalized students that they will be deprived of years of school. For these reasons, ABLE has joined other advocacy and civil rights groups opposing HB 206.
ABLE Provides Opposing Testimony
Earlier this week, ABLE attorney David Manor provided testimony in opposition to Ohio House Bill 206. Addressing the Ohio Senate Education Committee, Manor stated that the bill is fundamentally flawed, creates a variety of risks, and opens the door for students' rights violations. Manor described five key reasons why ABLE opposes HB 206.
- The bill uses vague and undefined terms, which open the door for school districts to expel many students for difficult-to-predict reasons.
- The bill puts too much power in the hands of a district to determine conditions for the child’s return to school, allowing for abuse.
- The bill takes the power of control over mental health treatment out of the hands of parents and puts it into the hands of the school.
- The bill allows for perpetual expulsion and district-defined conditions with no real upper limit or restrictions.
- The bill is likely to have discriminatory consequences, including disparate impact on students with disabilities, low-income students, and minority students.
Read Manor’s full testimony here.
HB 206 in its Current Form
HB 206 allows superintendents to expel a student from school for an entire school year “for actions the superintendent determines pose imminent and severe endangerment to the health and safety of other pupils or school employees.” Then, the superintendent can set any – even unrelated or discriminatory – conditions for the student to return to school. The superintendent can then extend the expulsion, and there is no limit on the number of extensions. This will allow permanent expulsions even if the student’s actions do not qualify for permanent exclusion under current law.
Read HB 206 Introduction here.
Though the outcome of HB 206 remains uncertain, ABLE will continue our commitment to keeping kids in school, where they can learn and receive the services they need. We remain steadfast in our advocacy against this bill.