COLUMBUS—State Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville), alongside joint-sponsor Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) recently introduced legislation aimed at addressing cycles of poverty by keeping students with disciplinary concerns on the path to earning their diploma. 

Senate Bill 246, also known as the SAFE Act, is the product of months of collaboration among numerous stakeholders including teachers, administrators, the Ohio Department of Education and third-party researchers.

"It is crucial that we keep students in the classroom and learning as much as possible, especially during their early years," said Manning. "Removing students from their learning environment for non-violent or threatening behavior does not do justice to our education system and classroom environment."

Provisions of the bill will limit out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for children, pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade, by encouraging locally-driven positive interventions and supports. However, violent behavior and threats toward others would still make a student eligible for suspension or expulsion under this legislation.

Studies have shown that students who have been expelled or suspended from school are up to 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, experience academic failure and grade retention, or face incarceration than those who have not.

“Schools want to cut down the number of suspensions and expulsions,” said Senator Lehner. “There is already movement towards more positive school classroom climates through the PBIS framework, with programs such as PAX, Love and Logic, the 3 R’s, and Conscious Discipline.”

If enacted, this legislation would provide for a phase-in over three school years, allowing local districts to choose positive behavior intervention methods and training policies most appropriate for them. An appropriation of $2 million will also be available for competitive grants to help schools implement these positive interventions. 
 
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