Juvenile Justice Legislation

SB 34 – Elimination of Zero Tolerance Policies (2015-2016)

Link to Bill:

SB 34 eliminates zero-tolerance school policies for violent, disruptive and inappropriate behavior and, instead, allows many factors to be considered before the suspension or expulsion of a student. It also requires school boards to create alternative strategies for handling student behavioral problems, bullying and harassment.

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Education (S)
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Our take on this bill:

The ACLU of Ohio supports SB 34. Currently, state law requires school districts to implement zero-tolerance policies; SB 34 gives discretion back to school districts, teachers and administrators to determine appropriate disciplinary actions for students.

The ACLU opposes zero-tolerance policies because they support harsh and often uncalled for punishment, often treating all infractions equally regardless of the underlying misbehavior. Such policies criminalize minor incidents of misconduct, pushing students out of their schools and into the juvenile or criminal justice systems. These students then face the lasting effects of falling behind in their education and having severe punishments on their permanent records. These policies have also been shown to disproportionately affect children with disabilities as well as children of color.

Bill Status:

Introduced in the Senate on 2/9/15

Referred to the Senate Education Committee on 2/11/15

Received Committee hearing on 3/17/15