[r65] Rep. Koch Targets School Discipline (1/12/2012)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Start Date: 1/12/2012 All Day
End Date: 1/12/2012

Bartholomew County

Brown County

Jackson County

Lawrence County

Rep. Koch Targets School Discipline
Legislation Improves Classroom Safety,
Learning Atmosphere 

STATEHOUSE – Education leaders are praising legislation introduced by State Representative Eric Koch (R-Bedford) that would give local schools more authority to suspend or expel students whose off-campus conduct endangers other students or disrupts the learning environment of the school.

House Bill 1169, The Restoring School Discipline Act, removes a requirement in current Indiana law that an action by a student on or off school grounds must be “unlawful” in order for a student to be suspended or expelled if the activity may reasonably be considered to be an interference with school purposes or an educational function; or the student’s removal is necessary to restore order or protect persons on school property.

“All students deserve a safe and conducive learning environment,” said Rep. Koch. “In limiting grounds for suspension and expulsion to only “unlawful” conduct, current law ties the hands of school officials to effectively deal with dangerous and disruptive behavior, including cyber bullying.”

“When I ask teachers and administrators what we can do to help them, attendance and discipline were frequently mentioned,” said Rep. Koch, who in the 2011 Session of the General Assembly authored and passed legislation to improve Indiana’s educational neglect statute to address the attendance issue. 

“HB 1169 will help schools better protect Indiana's children,” said Dr. John Ellis, Executive Director of Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents. “Because many threats and intimidating behaviors are now passed through technological means, the current student discipline statutes which speak to ‘unlawful’ activity are outdated. Cyber-bullying from a computer not owned by the school; cheating (including posting tests or answers on the web); and most conduct that disrupts the progress of other students are not defined as unlawful. This bill stands up for student rights regardless of where the violation of student conduct rules originated.”

“It will be helpful as school officials assess a student's conduct during and after school hours,” said Frank Bush, Executive Director of Indiana School Boards Association. “It offers clarity for school disciplinary actions.”

“The Indiana Association of School Principals finds merit in HB1169,” said Gerald Mohr, Executive Director of Indiana Association of School Principals. “If it is passed, Principals will work to make the new law effective in assisting in maintaining a proper school learning atmosphere.”

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Rep. Koch serves House District 65, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence Counties, and serves in House leadership as Assistant Republican Caucus Chairman.