For Immediate Release:
April 10, 2018
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 -

Council unanimously advances Grosso’s bill limiting exclusionary discipline

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the initial approval by the Council of the District of Columbia of his Student Fair Access to School Act, which aims to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices, including suspensions and expulsions. The Council voted unanimously today to advance the legislation to a final vote later this year:

“The full Council has taken the first step to protect every student’s right to an education, of which suspensions and expulsions deprive them. We know how negatively suspensions and expulsions affect the students pushed out of school—they are more likely to fail academically, to drop out, and to end up involved in the criminal justice system.

“One of my first acts as a Councilmember was to require that OSSE collect and report data on suspensions and expulsions.  The latest data demonstrates that Black students are nearly eight times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than White students. Students with disabilities are nearly twice as likely to receive at least one out-of-school suspension; at-risk students 1.5 times more likely. Moreover, we are seeing an increase in the use of disciplinary actions for subjective reasons. It is unacceptable and, if we seek to close the racial achievement gap, we must end it.

“The Student Fair Access to School Act limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child’s right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

“This collaborative legislation is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, government agency heads, and my colleagues. I look forward to working with my colleagues before the final vote and working through the Council budget process to provide significant investment in school-based behavioral health supports for our students and other resources to help schools.”