State Rep. Eric Johnson
State Rep. Eric Johnson

Special to The Dallas Examiner

AUSTIN – The Texas House gave final passage, April 10, to House Bill 65, legislation authored by Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, to require school districts to report demographic data about out-of-school suspensions to the state.

The bill would require school districts to report the race, sex and dates of birth of suspended students, as well as information on why the students were suspended and the length of the suspensions. The bill would also require districts to report the number of suspensions that were inconsistent with student code of conduct guidelines in the Education Code.

Districts would add the information to a report they already submit to the Texas Education Agency regarding expulsions and alternative school. As a result, the public, researchers and policymakers would have more information about the frequency and underlying causes of school suspensions.

Now that the House has approved the bill, the legislation will move to the Texas Senate for consideration.

“I have worked over several years to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and to build a school-to-workforce pipeline in its place, and this bill is an important part of that effort,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, we are trying to keep all kids on the path to a successful career.”

In 2017, Rep. Johnson authored and successfully passed the bill, which prohibits the suspension of students in pre-K through second grade except in the most serious cases.

“Researchers who want to study school discipline need more and better data,” Johnson said. “We know that student behavior is a complex topic that requires thoughtful, well-researched solutions. This legislation should help us arrive at the best solutions for all students.”

A broad coalition of groups registered support for the bill when it came before the House Committee on Public Education, including Texas Appleseed, Texas PTA, Pastors for Texas Children, Easterseals Texas, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Texas, and the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter.

“For those of us who are focused on developing the future workforce of Texas, this is must-pass legislation,” Johnson said. “I am optimistic that we will pass this bill into law very soon.”

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