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Gov. McAuliffe signs bills, updates resources to find alternatives to school suspensions

(Terry McAuliffe's Office)

RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation on Friday directing the Board of Education to develop best practice alternatives to school suspensions.

The legislation aligns with the Governor's Classrooms not Courtrooms initiative which aims to reduce school suspensions and curb student referrals to law enforcement.

Gov. McAuliffe also unveiled a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and updated School Resource Officer Program Guide.

“I am proud of my administration’s strong commitment to reducing unnecessary suspensions and expulsions, keeping students in school where they can receive support services, stay on track with their coursework, and ultimately become thriving members of the new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am also grateful to Delegate Bagby and Senator Wexton for their leadership on this issue. We cannot afford to lose a generation of students because we failed to act – because the children we keep in the classroom today are the adults who will fill the high-demand jobs of tomorrow.”

HB 1924 and SB 829 charge the Virginia Board of Education with creating guidelines on alternatives to short term and long term suspension for consideration by local school boards.

“The data in Virginia is clear – our students of color and students with disabilities are being suspended and expelled at significantly higher rates than their peers,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby who sponsored the bill. “This legislation is a necessary step in supporting local divisions with alternatives, but a great deal of work remains to be done to ensure these discriminatory practices come to an end.”

Additionally, the new model MOU is a legal framework used by schools and local law enforcement partners to define the role and purpose of school resource officers and school administrators as it relates to school discipline.

The revised School Resource Officer Program Guide provides more detailed and technical guidance on implementing that MOU for school resource officers and schools. They can be found online here.

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