TREND Spring 2020 | Page 16

With the current session of the Tennessee General Assembly suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all legislation that did not require immediate passage to deal with its repurcussions has been put on hold until the legislature reconvenes. A long-awaited bill to address student discipline had just been calendared in the House and Senate Education Committees, and several bills were being considered to address unintended consequences of previous legislation to lower rates of suspensions. There is also legislation to confer civil immunity on edcuators who use reasonable force to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another person. We have heard very positive feedback from members on Rep. Van Huss’s bill to end portfolios for non-tested grades and subjects. Although teachers had asked for 2020 EDUCATION STUDENT DISCIPLINE LEGISLATION SB2252 / HB2134 - “Teachers Discipline Act” (J. Hensley / S. Cepicky) The legislation authorizes a teacher to manage the teacher’s classroom, discipline students, and refer a student to the principal or the principal’s designee to maintain discipline in the classroom. It authorizes a teacher to remove a student from the classroom whose behavior interferes with the learning process, violates the student code of conduct, or poses a safety threat, and establishes the process for a student’s removal and return to the classroom. Children cannot learn in a classroom where their teachers spend a significant amount of time dealing with student discipline issues. It can be unsafe, for the teacher and the other students, and significantly disrupts the learning environment. We need a better process for our discipline issues to create a better public-school system. House Bill 2134/Senate Bill 2252 is a step in the right direction. SB2437 / HB2693 - Civil Immunity (B. Powers / C. Baum) This bill confers civil immunity upon a teacher, principal, school employee, or school bus driver properly using reasonable force to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another person. By better defining “qualified immunity” we should reduce frivolous lawsuits in our state. SB1755 / HB1671 - Alternative School (F. Haile / W. Lamberth) This would allow a director of schools, or the director’s designee, to determine whether a suspended or expelled student should be required to attend alternative school or an alternative program, to remove a student from alternative school or an alternative program if the student is not benefitting from the placement, and to determine whether, and how, if applicable, to enforce the suspension or expulsion of a student who transfers into the LEA under suspension or expulsion from another LEA.