50 signatures reached
To: Senator Peggy Lehner, Senate Education Committee Chair
Pass Ohio Senate Bill 34: End Zero Tolerance Now!
Dear Sentor Peggy Lehner, please push for more hearings on Senate Bill 34 and support its swift passage.
Why is this important?
Zero tolerance policies in Ohio Schools have been shown to negatively affect everyone in our communities, and disproportionately harm youth of color, LGBTQ+ youth, and students with disabilities. The spirit of Ohio schools should be one of caring, stability, and support for ALL students.
According to testimony from Ohio Senator Tavares on March 17, 2015: "A disproportionate number of the total number of disciplinary incidents in Ohio public schools affected black students and students with disabilities. Black students in Ohio public schools for the 2012-13 school year accounted for 52 percent of all suspensions and 53 percent of all expulsions, even though black students comprise only 15.9 percent of students enrolled in Ohio schools. Students with disabilities account for 27.5 percent of all suspensions, but only 14.8 percent of total enrollment. Black students are over 6 times more likely to be suspended than white students, and students with disabilities are approximately twice as likely to be suspended. Students with emotional disturbance - a certain category of disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - however, are over 6 times more likely to be suspended. And if you put race and disability together, a black student with emotional disturbance is 25 times more likely to be suspended than a White student with no disability."
Additionally, the ACLU released a report demonstrating how zero tolerance policies harm all youth, especially LGBTQ+ students. The report concluded that zero tolerance policies:
-"DON’T improve school safety or climate. The assumption behind Zero Tolerance policies is that removing disruptive students from school will deter other students from disruption and create an improved school climate. But research shows that the opposite is in fact true—schools with high suspension and expulsion rates have worse school climates and higher rates of suspension and misbehavior.
-DON’T stop the bullies from bullying. Suspension and expulsion don’t result in changed behavior, and they could lock in that behavior. Studies of school suspension show that up to 40% of school suspensions are for repeat offenders, leading researchers to conclude that, for those students, 'suspension functions as a reinforcer...rather than a punisher.'
-ARE used against LGBTQ students more than straight students. Research also shows that Zero Tolerance policies are disproportionately used against vulnerable student populations, including students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students. A recent study concluded that LGBTQ students were 1.25 to 3 times more likely to get punished at school than their heterosexual peers. What this means is that the LGBTQ student who fights back against bullying is more likely to be punished than the bully."
Introduced by Senator Tavares and sponsored by Senators Seitz, Brown, Thomas, and Skindell, SB34 will: "Eliminate any policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior, including excessive truancy, adopted under this section as it existed prior to the effective date of this amendment. Thereafter, no board shall adopt or readopt any policy of zero tolerance for such behavior. Each board shall instead adopt a policy that allows for many factors to be considered prior to the suspension or expulsion of a student. The policy shall establish alternative strategies, including prevention, intervention, restorative justice, peer mediation, and counseling to address both of the following: (1) Discipline for student behavioral problems; (2) Harassment, intimidation, and bullying, as defined by section 3313.666 of the Revised Code."