Bill aims to curb discipline against young students

A state lawmaker is pushing a plan that would stop Georgia’s public schools from suspending or expelling most students in pre-kindergarten through the third grade.

House Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, said in a statement Wednesday he believes schools should look for alternative forms of punishment, such as counseling. Howard said 14,292 students below the fourth grade were suspended during the 2013-14 school year, citing state education department data.

“Suspension and expulsion only hinder a young child mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. That is not advantageous for Georgia’s children,” he said.

The legislation, House Bill 135, titled the “Too Young to Suspend Act,” would continue to allow schools to suspend or expel students who’ve willfully harmed or attempted to harm another student or brought a weapon to school.

The bill is being sponsored by two other Democrats, but no Republicans. Republicans outnumber Democrats by about a two-to-one ratio in the Georgia House of Representatives.

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