From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23
For Immediate Release
April 4, 2001
Senator West Supports bill that sets school discipline standards
AUSTIN -- State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) has endorsed legislation filed by fellow Texas Democrats that will set guidelines for discipline management in the classroom. The Senator said that maintaining a safe and non-threatening environment for learning is a prerequisite for academic achievement.
"In a time when obtaining a quality education has become more important than ever, no child has the right to infringe on the learning experience of his classmates through acts of disruption," said Senator West. "It is important that the time spent in the classroom is devoted to the educational experience. It should not be derailed by inappropriate behavior."
House Bill 3112 provides local school districts with a framework to update and develop disciplinary policies. Senator West emphasized that the legislation is not state-administered, but one that implements policies devised by local school officials, teachers, parents and the community.
In 1995, the Texas Legislature required school districts to create a student code of conduct, but presently, there are no specific guidelines for school districts to use in establishing these codes. House Bill 3112 will require the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to adopt a student code that sets minimum standards for conduct and minimum consequences for violations of that conduct. In establishing their local codes of conduct, school districts must be consistent with minimum standards set by the state.
"While we have charged TEA with setting guidelines that can be used in the enforcement of classroom discipline, the Legislature has been careful not to erode the ability of school officials to devise policies that will suit the needs of their local districts," said Senator West.
In addition, Texas Democrats also support programs designed for juveniles that would teach accountability to first-time teen offenders. One such program monitors school attendance. Others provide family counseling, tutoring and after-school activities. While showing juveniles that there are negative consequences for inappropriate conduct, lawmakers need also be flexible in looking for new approaches that will take into account the victims of crime.
"In recent years, the State of Texas has invested it's resources to explore programs such as Teen Court, Community Youth Development Programs (CYD Grants) and Project Spotlight," Senator West added. "While these programs have proven effective in enforcing the law, and in lowering the incidence of juvenile crime, they have also provided guidance to youthful offenders. Each of these programs also contains a community service component where teens either work on public projects or in the case of Teen Courts, gain insight into the Justice System."
According to Senator West, Texas Democrats will continue to foster an environment that provides support to families, communities, and law enforcement groups in their efforts to provide a safe and positive school climate.
For more information, please feel free to contact the office of State Senator Royce West or visit the state website at www.capitol.state.tx.us.
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