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LAUSD Board Votes To End 'Willful Defiance' Suspensions

LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday night to discontinue its use of "willful defiance" by students as a suspendable offense.

The policy allowed school staff to suspend "disruptive" students, including those who refused to remove their hats or turn off a cellphone.

The "willful defiance" policy was historically linked to a "disproportionate number of African American students and students with disabilities," according to LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia.

Garcia introduced the "2013 School Discipline Policy and School Climate Bill of Rights" proposal last month as part of a plan to establish new guidelines for how school officials discipline students.

In a motion filed on April 16, Garcia proposed "developing a culture of discipline grounded in positive behavior interventions and away from punitive approaches that infringe on instruction time" and reserving the disciplinary action "as a last resort for intervention."

The motion cited a study by EdSource indicating that 36 percent of suspensions district-wide and 42 percent throughout the state of California are attributed to "willful defiance."

Under the proposal, no LAUSD student would be suspended or expelled for willful defiance beginning in the fall of 2013.

"So that we're not suspending students for frivolous things which can very much lead to things like early criminalization," LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said.

Disruptive students will still be removed from classrooms, but will face consequences on campus.

By 2020, schools will be required to implement alternatives to traditional disciplinary measures that "focus on healing, respect, support, and the general well-being of the students involved."

RELATED LINK: LAUSD May Ban Student Suspensions For 'Willful Defiance'

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