OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill to reduce out of school suspensions for students who assault teachers and school staff passes in a state Senate committee.

The proposal could keep students in school after they’ve acted violently. The goal is to get them help. But some lawmakers question the effectiveness.

“It’s giving the local board of education tremendous discretion in how they want to provide alternative disciplinary actions,” said Senator Ron Sharp (R) Oklahoma City.

Senator Sharp, a former teacher himself, says his bill would give districts more leeway when it comes to suspending violent students who assault staff. 

Right now, the law requires students to be suspended for the current semester and the next semester.

“We are trying our best to here in this legislation to provide alternatives to suspension which we both know is not good. Too many of these students who are going home to an empty home and to many of them they will be having a paid vacation,” said Sen. Sharp.

So as an alternative to that *paid vacation* Senator Sharp is presenting a bill that would allow districts to determine the length of a suspension and allow the student to stay in school if:

  1. A parent shadows the student for the length of the suspension.
  2. The parent agrees to requiring the student to participate in in-school counseling.
  3. The parent seeks professional counseling instead of suspension.

“Are we saying it’s best for that child to stay in that classroom just for mainstreaming purposes and possibly put a parent that could care less in that classroom as well?  I don’t understand,” said Senator Jason Smalley (R) Stroud.

Senator Sharp replied, “I wish that we could provide legislation that could make every parent perfect. We can’t. We cannot legislate morality.”

Despite concerns, the bill passed unanimously out of committee and now heads for the full Senate floor.