Two Republican Ohio state representatives have introduced legislation to allow school superintendents to administer expulsions for dangerous students in their districts as they see fit.
House Bill (HB) 206, sponsored by State Representatives Monica Robb Blasdel (R-Columbiana County) and Gary Click (R-Vickery), looks to allow schools greater flexibility for expulsions under Ohio law and to create re-entry plans to protect both students and staff.
Under current Ohio law, school districts are able to expel students for no longer than 80 days or up to a year for bringing a firearm or knife to school, making a bomb threat, or committing a criminal offense that results in serious physical harm. Upon completing these expulsions and without committing an additional illegal or expellable offense, schools must readmit students even if they continue to see a clear and present danger.
A report from the Washington Post details 46 school shootings in the U.S. last year and 346 since Columbine. Six of those shootings took place in Ohio.
Robb Blasdel (pictured above, left) said that Ohio law should leave these expulsion and re-entry decisions to school administrators to decide what is best for the safety of their students, staff, and district.
“These decisions should be left up to school administrators, who understand the complexities of a situation as it occurs in front of them. This is why we have left the language permissive, simply allowing a board of education to authorize superintendents to take advantage of these provisions. These are the people who know what is best for their school districts and should have the tools needed for the continued safety of their students,” Robb Blasdel said.
According to the lawmakers, educators have come forward to them seeking more flexibility in Ohio’s current school expulsion and reentry law to provide options to school districts looking to ensure the safety of its students and faculty.
Click (pictured above, right) said that “HB 206 represents a major step toward that goal by allowing local school districts exactly that: flexibility to ensure safety of their students and their staff.”
The legislation permits the school board to authorize the superintendent to suspend a student for a period not to exceed 180 days for actions determined to pose an imminent and severe endangerment to pupils and employees of the school. It also requires the superintendent to establish conditions for reinstating the student. The superintendent may suspend the student for an additional 90 days if the student does not meet these conditions. No later than five days after suspension, the superintendent must devise a plan for the student’s continuing education.
The bill requires the expelled student to undergo an assessment by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or school psychologist to determine if the student is a danger to themselves or the school district before re-entry. However, the student’s parents may request an early assessment if they believe their child has met the benchmarks ahead of the designated time.
HB 206 is essentially a reintroduction of HB 334 from the 130th General Assembly from former State Representatives Bill Hayes and Jay Hottinger. It passed out of the House with bipartisan support in 2014.
The legislation is under review in the Ohio House Primary and Secondary Education Committee.
The Ohio Star contacted Click and Robb Blasdel for additional comment but did not receive a reply before press time.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]