OK Lawmakers Pull Bill Allowing Suspension Of 8-Year-Olds

Tuesday, April 25th 2017, 6:03 pm

A controversial bill is pulled from consideration. It would've allowed schools to suspend children as young as eight years old.

Backers of the bill say kids these days are bigger, stronger and more aggressive than they were just a generation ago. And when they assault teachers and staff there must be consequences. But opponents say these kids need structure, not time off from school.

"We're talking about 8, 9, and 10 year olds. The answer is not kicking them out of the classroom. The answer is trying to find them the help that they need to deal with some traumatic issues that they're facing," said Joe Dorman with the Oklahoma Institute of Child Advocacy.

Backers of the bill say there are no easy answers. The state is facing a nearly $900-million budget hole and can't afford to hire more counselors for unruly kids. Suspending those kids will keep them away from staff and teachers, for a while, but it's not a permanent solution. That's why the author pulled the bill.

"We really do not want to suspend any child. So therefore, we're trying to come up with alternatives to suspension. And that's why we've laid the bill over. It wasn't for any political pressure. We could have run the bill we had the votes," said Sen. Ron Sharp.

The bill's author tells News 9 he plans to meet with child advocates and try to come up with a better plan to present next year.