SB 239 is designed to allow school officials to respond to a threat of violence or danger preemptively in situations where the current facts do not allow them to expel a student permanently. It allows boards of education, or the governing authority of a community or STEM school to expel a student for up to 180 days for actions that pose an “imminent and severe danger to the health and safety” of other students or school employees. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or school psychologist must assess students who are expelled for this reason before being reinstated to school.
SB 239 also requires the superintendent to assess the student at the end of the expulsion period to determine whether the student has shown “sufficient rehabilitation” to be reinstated and permits the superintendent to extend the expulsion for another period of up to 90 school days, subject to further assessment and extensions. The superintendent must develop a plan for continued education during the expulsion period.
LCS Legislation Status
Our Take on This Bill
The ACLU of Ohio believes that SB 239 is the wrong approach to address potential school violence. While suspension and expulsion are often considered quick fixes for schools, the practice is harmful to students who are removed. Additionally, research shows that students of color and those with disabilities are disciplined more often and to a greater extent than their counterparts. There is doubt that this new law would be applied any better than current laws and policies.
Furthermore, SB 239 grants a troubling amount of discretion to Ohio’s superintendents to determine which students to expel, the conditions a student must meet to be re-enrolled, whether a student has met these conditions, and whether to indefinitely expel a student.
Finally, SB 239 is silent on how much information superintendents will be given about psychological assessments mandated under the bill, raising serious medical privacy concerns.