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Malloy's Veto On Student Discipline Upsets Educators

Eric Gay

Connecticut teachers, superintendents and state education officials are debating next steps for student discipline following Governor Dannel Malloy’s veto of a bill that sought to set new standards for suspensions.

The bill aimed to help protect teachers from injury by removing children who act out in violent ways.

David Hayes, a teacher from Bristol and president of the Bristol Federation of Teachers, says the measure would have helped clear up misunderstandings over when it's appropriate to suspend a student.

“From the average teacher’s perspective, there’s a real frustration. You know, what about that one kid, is he really getting what he needs by being thrown into this regular setting, if there is some sort of limit on how long he can be out? If we are going to put him back in?”

Hayes spoke at a hearing of the state Commission on Women, Children and Seniors in Hartford on Tuesday.

Charlene Russell-Tucker, chief operating officer of the state Department of Education, says the bill would have put new pressure on teachers and invited complaints from parents.

“Too often I have seen children languishing in the hallway down by the principal’s office, sitting at a desk getting packets of work. That may qualify as some incredibly low bar for education. But I don’t think any of us want our own children, or any child, to be sitting down a hallway by themselves filling out packets of work. That is not what we view as education.”

Malloy said he vetoed the bill because it would disproportionately affect students of color and students with disabilities.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.