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Legislators Fail Students and Teachers on Classroom Safety, Supports for At-Risk Students

Fail to override (002)

Legislators failed to protect students and teachers—and lost the best chance Connecticut has had to increase classroom safety for all students and reduce discriminatory discipline for students of color and special education students—when they failed today to override Governor Malloy’s veto of the classroom safety bill.

“It is truly disheartening that legislators and the governor denied protections for the safety of students and teachers, and proactive supports to help students who cause physical injury to others,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The only way to end the school-to-prison pipeline is to take actions that hold administrators accountable for ensuring that students receive the resources they need. We are disappointed that legislators, who passed this bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, failed to override the governor’s veto and enact this bill into law.”

All Democratic state senators voted with Governor Malloy, and all but two Republicans voted to override Malloy’s veto. A two-thirds majority is required for a veto override.

The governor vetoed Public Act 18-89, An Act Concerning Classroom Safety and Disruptive Behavior, after an unprecedented campaign of misleading and false information from the governor and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS).

“Administrators must have greater accountability for reducing violence in the schools and for providing appropriate help for students in need,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “Responsible administrators should welcome the proactive and supportive approach of PA 18-89 rather than the current system of relying on expulsions and suspensions, or worse still, ignoring the needs of students who would otherwise face discriminatory discipline.”

Public Act 18-89 would have helped ensure a safe classroom environment for all students and educators. It would have required that students who cause physical injury to others receive appropriate counseling and services rather than being ignored or disciplined in a discriminatory way, which occurs too often at present.

The creation of the classroom safety bill was a collaborative effort, with input from a variety of education stakeholders, including legislators, the State’s Child Advocate, mental health advocates, the executive director of the Commission on Equity and Opportunity, and the Commissioner of Education.

“Today, legislators failed to take a real step forward to protect students and teachers in Connecticut’s public school classrooms,” said Cohen. “Teachers want real solutions, not phony ‘feel-good’ ideas that accomplish nothing and do not hold administrators accountable.”

She emphasized, “Teachers will continue to push for accountability from administrators and for help, resources, and supports for our at-risk students before they end up in the criminal justice system.”

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