We previously outlined a series of Bills that would expand the role of law enforcement in policing student misbehavior and further criminalize student conduct. Because students with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by harsh disciplinary practices in schools and by the criminalization of student misbehavior, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is monitoring these Bills closely. Some of these Bills are still alive, while others have met an early demise. Read on to find out where they stand as of February 3, 2022.
- Reports to law enforcement:
At the start of the session, there were at least four (4) House Bills and two (2) Senate Bills that would expand the number of incidents of student misbehavior that must be reported by school principals to law enforcement, including certain misdemeanor offenses. Currently, school principals are only required to report offenses that may constitute felony offenses if committed by an adult. The statuses of these Bills as of February 3, 2022 is as follows:
HB 4 (Wyatt): A substitute Bill was passed by the House by a vote of 59-40. This Bill, which still expands the number of offenses that must be reported to law enforcement, narrows these offenses compared to the original Bill. It will go to the Senate Committee on Education and health for consideration next. Bills must be passed by both houses and signed by the Governor before they can become law.
HB 59 (McGuire), HB 308 (Ransone), and HB 985 (Anderson): Each of these Bills would also expand the number of incidents of student misconduct that must be reported to law enforcement to include many misdemeanor offenses. Although referred to the House Committee on Education, none of these Bills have been docketed for consideration by the committee as of February 3, 2022. Bills must be taken up by Committee and reported for consideration by the full House before they can become law.
SB 36 (Norment), and SB 613 (Stanley): These Bills would also expand the incidents of student misbehavior that must be reported by school principals to law enforcement, to include certain misdemeanor offenses. These Bills were not heard in the last scheduled Senate Public Education Subcommittee, but they may still be heard by the full Senate Education Committee.
- Mandatory employment of School Resource Officers (SROs)
Three (3) Bills were introduced at the start of this session to require school boards to enter into Memoranda of Understanding with local law enforcement and to employ School Resource Officers (SROs) in their schools: HB 37 (Anderson), which would require school boards to employ SROs in every middle and high school, and at least one per five (5) elementary schools; and HB 873 (Greenhalgh), and SB 415 (DeSteph), which would require an SRO to be employed in every school. Neither of these Bills has been considered in committee as of February 3, 2022.
- Classifying student disruptions as criminal “disorderly conduct”
HB 89 (Walker): In its original form, this Bill would have removed an existing exception to Virginia’s disorderly conduct statute that excludes disruptive student behavior from the definition of the criminal offense of “disorderly conduct.” It passed the House of Delegates in amended form. The Amended Bill, which will advance to be considered by the Senate, removes the existing exception only for high school students, but leaves it in tact for elementary and middle school students.
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