NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A bill allowing teachers to remove some students from their classrooms permanently is one step closer to becoming state law.
It passed the House on Monday. The Senate still needs to vote on the measure before it goes to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for him to sign.
Supporters said the measure would help teachers manage their classrooms, but critics point to the idea directly impacting children of color if it becomes law.
"Quite simply unacceptable,” Sonya Thomas, a parent said.
Sonya Thomas is a mother of four and is also the executive director for a parent group called Nashville PROPEL.
Thomas worries about a bill going through the state legislature known as the Teacher’s Discipline Act.
"I'm afraid that a child will be exposed to a teacher who is not connected to their community, who does not understand their worldview, and who will be biased and assume that child is a bad child,” Thomas said.
The proposal would set up a process for teachers to remove a student permanently from their classroom if they’re constantly misbehaving.
"One of the main reasons teachers are leaving the profession right now is not being able to get control of their classrooms,” State Rep. Scott Cepicky, (R) Culleoka said.
Cepicky is the sponsor of the bill.
The bill includes six steps like parent-teacher conferences. Cepicky said it would protect students with special needs.
Removing a student from the classroom would be the last resort.
“To make sure that a teacher cannot arbitrarily remove a student from a classroom,” Cepicky said.
If all options are exhausted, Cepicky said the school board would give recommendations to the principal or superintendent. That could include virtual learning or the student being assigned to another classroom.
Democratic state lawmakers are raising concerns about the measure.
"Those exclusionary practices are not successful. They don't make for safer schools and you also won't see a decrease in the behavior,” State Rep. Gloria Johnson, (D) Knoxville said.
Johnson wants to find positive ways to impact behavior in school discipline.
For parents like Thomas, she believes there’s another way too.
"I think that sometimes we don't ask enough questions. We just assume that children are bad and we never think to ask them what's wrong,” Thomas said.
The Senate is expected to take the bill up on Thursday.