Columbus – Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D - Columbus) has introduced Senate Bill 167 to eliminate any policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior, including truancy in schools.  Zero tolerance policies are defined as a policy that results in a mandatory minimum or expulsion of any student who commits one or more specified offenses.

During the 2010-2011 school year, according to data from the Ohio Department of Education, only 6% of out-of-school suspensions involved weapons or drugs, while 64% of suspensions were for disobedient or disruptive behavior, truancy, or intimidation. Zero tolerance policies often punish a student with a behavioral problem twice by both expelling that student and preventing that student from continuing their education during the expulsion.

Additionally, children who lack a stable, nurturing home environment often see school as a safe haven; the forced removal of these children from school not only destroys their academic prospects but also further exacerbates the trauma occurring in their personal lives. This legislation is intended to break that cycle to ensure that such students get the help they need.

Senate Bill 167 will allow teachers, principals and guidance counselors the opportunity to take a holistic approach when addressing the issue with each child. It provides the opportunity for school districts to craft disciplinary policies that respect the dignity of the child and preserve their right to an education by reserving suspension and expulsion only for the most serious and dangerous situations. 

“Our goal is to provide a safe, nurturing educational environment for all children that incorporates behavior modification policies that are appropriate to meet the infraction,” stated Senator Charleta B. Tavares.  “We want to ensure that we are meeting the child’s educational needs while addressing the inappropriate behavior through common sense treatment and discipline policies.”

Six states have enacted similar legislation to modify their policies of zero tolerance in schools: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Rhode Island. 


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