Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown signs bill to ban school suspensions for ‘willful defiance’

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation limiting school administrators’ use of an offense called “willful defiance” to suspend students in California schools, Brown’s office said Saturday.

Proponents of Assembly Bill 420, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, said application of the “willful defiance” offense was used disproportionately to discipline minorities.

“California is now the first state in the nation to take badly-needed measures to curtail suspensions and expulsions for minor misbehavior in our schools,” Dickinson said in a prepared statement. “Kids who have been suspended or expelled are two times more likely to drop out and five times more likely to turn to crime. Rather than kicking students out of school, we need to keep young people in school on track to graduate, and out of the criminal justice system.”

Brown had previously vetoed a similar bill, writing that he “cannot support limiting the authority of local school leaders. The measure Brown signed was narrowed to only prohibit willful defiance suspensions for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade.

The bill was one of a spate of measures the Democratic governor announced action on Saturday, with Tuesday’s bill signing deadline approaching.

Among other measures, Brown announced he has signed legislation allocating $3 million to provide legal help to unaccompanied minors arriving in California from Central America.