Lawmakers vote to roll back restorative justice law, with lone legislator opposed

14 April 2023

A pair of bills, including one from Gov. Joe Lombardo, that could repeal parts of a so-called restorative justice law from 2019 that placed restrictions on student suspension and expulsion were approved by the Assembly Education Committee on Thursday.  

A single lawmaker — Assemblywoman Clara Thomas (D-North Las Vegas) — voted against the bills, citing her desire to see students rehabilitated before they become part of the criminal justice system. 

The bills were in reaction to escalating, and at times violent, student behavior. Some cases resulted in injuries to teachers and school staff. Some school officials have said the 2019 bill limits the consequences students could face for violent acts. 

The 2019 bill, AB168, prohibits the permanent expulsion of a pupil who is not more than 10 years old except in certain limited circumstances. An amendment to AB285 from Assemblywoman Angie Taylor (D-Reno), the bill’s sponsor, would allow students 6 and older to be suspended or expelled for certain offenses. The amendment prohibits students younger than 6 from being permanently expelled, but states they may be suspended or temporarily expelled. 

“(Six year olds) don’t even know how to write their name and you’re ready to take them out of class,” Thomas said. 

However, Taylor notes that the amendment also includes language that could provide a path for certain students who are expelled to return to class. 

Thomas also voted against Lombardo’s AB330, which was scaled back in an amendment that included similar age parameters as well as protections for students experiencing homelessness. 

“This is unbelievable to me that we in the United States of America, in the state of Nevada, are willing to put our children through this garbage when we have the money and the willpower, and we can have kids rehabilitate instead of waiting for them to get into prison to rehabilitate them,” Thomas said. “(Whether) it be the governor’s bill — I don’t give a sugar — I am upset that we will do something like this to our children in the state of Nevada.”

The amendment to Lombardo’s bill also removed language that would have allowed principals to block teachers from removing students in certain situations. 

Before the meeting, the Clark County Education Association targeted Thomas for her opposition of the bills, which the union has supported, in door hangers. Thomas called the campaign “a DIRTY game” in a tweet.

The post Lawmakers vote to roll back restorative justice law, with lone legislator opposed appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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