Local lawmakers divided on longer school expulsions - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Local lawmakers divided on longer school expulsions

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio - Students facing expulsion for serious actions including school threats could be kicked out of the classroom for a longer period of time.

Local lawmakers are divided on a state bill that some say provides school district leaders with another tool to keep schools safe.

Whether it happens in the hallway or online through social media, school districts could impose a stronger punishment on students who pose an "imminent threat" to others.

House Bill 334 gives districts the ability to expel a student based on their actions for up to 180. Current state law allows for up to 80 days.

While State Representatives Sean O'Brien and Nick Barborak voted in favor the measure which passed in the house, Bob Hagan, Ron Gerberry and Tom Letson remain opposed.

Hagan believes longer expulsions remove students from the learning process, including learning from their actions.

"It's zero tolerance, it could be sending a clear message to the rest of the students that 'we're not going to tolerate this', but there's other ways to do that," Hagan says.

Hagan says he's in favor of sending students to alternative classrooms, so students can remain on campus.

The bill would require students to complete counseling and the districts to create a plan to allow the student to continue learning during their expulsion. 

Liberty Local Schools Superintendent Stan Watson says he'd need more clarification on how to provide learning opportunities for a student forced out of school, especially if a student doesn't have access to a computer.

But Watson says having the option to remove a student for a longer period of time could be necessary depending on the nature of the threat they're accused of.

"If you bring that student back too early, now you've got this total disruption of the school environment," Watson says.

The measure will next go before the state Senate.


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