The legislature, and the Senate in particular, did something remarkable. They voted not to override Gov. Dannel Malloy’s veto of Public Act 18-89, an Act Concerning Classroom Safety & Disruptive Behavior, a bill which received a unanimous vote in the Senate earlier in the session.
While well-meaning in its intent, if passed into law, this act would have resulted in a tremendous set-back for our state in the area of school discipline and climate and would have also led to flagrant violations of students with disabilities qualified under the Individual with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA)
P.A. 18-89 empowered teachers to use their individual discretion to remove children from their classrooms for violations of what was an ill-defined new term, “daily classroom safety.” This discretion could be applied, and could prevent the student’s return to the classroom indefinitely, without putting into place additional resources for teacher support or considering the necessary interventions needed by that individual child.
No doubt, this discretion would be used implicitly against children of color. Moreover, exercise of such teacher discretion would interfere with the rights of students with disabilities and detailed plans under the IDEA. In short, this act, if passed, would have been a disaster.
We shared our legal and practical concerns and were overwhelmed by the amount of support individuals and organizations alike showed. Thank you to everyone who took the time and made the effort to have your voice heard on behalf of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children, urging legislators not to override the governor’s veto.
Marisa Halm is the Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of the Center for Children’s Advocacy.