AUSTIN, TEXAS – Legislation that State Rep. Eric Johnson authored to help keep more students on the path to academic and career success won approval in the Texas Senate on Wednesday. It will now head to Governor Greg Abbott, who will decide whether to sign the bill into law.
The legislation, House Bill 65, requires school districts to report demographic data about out-of-school suspensions to the state. It is the latest piece of Rep. Johnson’s years-long effort to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Two years ago, Rep. Johnson passed a bill into law outlawing out-of-school suspensions in prekindergarten through second grade.
“House Bill 65 is absolutely essential to developing a world-class workforce across Texas,” said Rep. Johnson, Dallas. “I want to replace the school-to-prison pipeline with a school-to-workforce pipeline. If we have more information and smarter policies related to discipline, we can keep more of our young people on the path to successful careers.”
House Bill 65 says school districts must report the race, sex and dates of birth of suspended students, as well as information on why the students were suspended and the length of the suspensions. The bill would also require districts to report the number of suspensions that were inconsistent with student code of conduct guidelines in the Education Code.
Districts would add the information to a report they already submit to the Texas Education Agency regarding expulsions and alternative school. As a result, the public, researchers and policymakers would have more information about the frequency and underlying causes of school suspensions.
“This legislation is going to give the public and researchers more information about the frequency and underlying causes of school suspensions,” Rep. Johnson said. “The data will help elected leaders at the state and local levels craft better policies related to student behavior.”
After the House overwhelmingly passed the bill in April, Sen. Royce West of Dallas sponsored it in the Texas Senate, where it passed Wednesday. Rep. Johnson was on the floor of the Senate for the bill’s passage.
“I want to thank Senator West for working with me to move this bill through the Senate,” Rep. Johnson said. “I am optimistic that Governor Abbott will sign this bill into law so that more Texas kids will be ready to enter, and thrive in, the workforce of the future.”