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Feb 20

General Assembly Report – February 16

The 2012 General Assembly session has had a variety of bills presented related to discipline in our public schools. While news coverage of this topic has been scattered, discipline remains one of the more frequently addressed topics in the General Assembly. In the 2012 session, eight (8) bills proposed on this subject have either failed or were carried over. VASSP supported the resolve to protect administrative flexibility and authority by testifying against legislation that would require parent notification prior to any investigation, mandate alternative placement for serious offenders, and require administrators to “Mirandize” students.

With the number of bills originating from both sides of the aisle and the high-profile case from Fairfax that was the impetus for much of the legislation, education liaisons agreed that it was likely that we would see a bill pass in some form. In light of these odds, VASSP, VSBA and VASS met with Senator Petersen, patron of SB 167, and fashioned an amendment that was favorable to us and acceptable to the patron. The language in SB 167, that passed in the Senate, includes new wording: “school principal (or designee) shall attempt to notify parents of any student who has violated school board policy when such violation will result in student’s suspension, expulsion or notification of law enforcement. Such notification shall be made as soon as practicable.” We believe this is a “win, win” for all.

The House of Delegates failed to recommend that any of the discipline bills go forward. The Senate passed SB 167 unanimously. Senator Petersen’s bill will likely be heard in the House Education Committee following a hearing in subcommittee.