A number of bills relating to student discipline have been filed, including proposals encouraging the use of restorative justice techniques and bills addressing the use of disciplinary actions with special education students. The bill filing deadline is March 12.

  • HB 62 by Rep. James Talarico adds "restorative justice" to the current "positive behavior program" law in Chapter 37. Makes the language mandatory rather than permissive, so that districts must implement a program (in consultation with campus behavior coordinators) through which the district may provide an alternative to suspension for students in any grade level, including (new language) conduct that violates a penal law of this state. Adds that the program must be culturally responsive. Defines restorative justice practices as emphasizing repairing harm caused by a person's conduct to another person or the community. Includes victim-initiated conference, family group conference, restorative circle, community conference or other victim-centered practice. Creates the Restorative Justice Coordinating Council to assist TEA and districts in developing and delivering restorative justice programs and training. Requires the Council to create a database of programs used by districts and identify best practices.
  • HB 640 by Rep. Richard Raymond provides that a principal or campus behavior coordinator of a public, private or charter school who suspects a student of harmful or illegal conduct that poses a serious threat to the student or other students can, with parental permission, search the student and his/her possessions for evidence. A student found to be in violation of a law or school policy based on the search may not be expelled but can be required to attend a youth boot camp, substance abuse treatment program, or juvenile justice alternative education program.
  • HB 785 by Rep. Alma Allen requires an IEP committee to at least annually review a behavior improvement plan (BIP) if included in a student's IEP, to address any changes in the student's circumstances (e.g., a changed placement or variations in attendance or behavior), or student safety. Adds to required provisions of a student code of conduct that parent notification of a student removed to a DAEP or expelled must specify whether the district recommends a revision to the BIP, if applicable, or whether the district recommends conducting a functional behavioral assessment. District policies on restraint and time-out procedures must require the district to provide parent notification for each use of restraint that includes the name of the employee administering the restraint, the date/time/location, the nature of the restraint, a description of the student's prior activity and behavior leading to the restraint, de-escalation and alternatives attempted, whether revision to the BIP is recommended (if applicable) or whether the district recommends conducting a functional behavioral assessment. The policy must also include in a student's special education eligibility records a copy of any such parent notification and, if the student has a BIP, must document each use of time-out prompted by the student's behavior. If a district takes a disciplinary action regarding a student with a disability receiving special education services that constitutes a change in placement, the district must conduct a functional behavioral assessment and review any previous such assessments or BIPs within 10 days of the action; and must develop a BIP if the student does not have one, or revise the plan if there is a BIP.
  • HB 818 by Rep. Sheryl Cole expands the definition of the crime of harassment to include publication of repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, abuse, or torment another person and makes this form of harassment a Class A misdemeanor. 
  • HB 822 by Rep. DeWayne Burns requires expulsion of a student who engages in felony terroristic threat. If the threat is a misdemeanor, expulsion is permissible but not mandatory.
  • HB 961 by Rep. Burns provides an exemption to the law that prohibits ticketing of a child committing a school offense: "...unless the child is alleged to have committed the offense while the child was in a DAEP."
  • HB 1201 by Rep. Gene Wu requires districts and charter schools to develop and implement restorative discipline practices as alternatives to disciplinary measures. If disciplinary action is discretionary the campus behavior coordinator or other appropriate administrator must try restorative practices before placing the student into ISS or OSS, expelling the student, or placing the student in a JJAEP. Any such use of restorative discipline and its outcome on student behavior must be documented. Requires that a campus behavior coordinator, in written notice to parents after a disciplinary action, include a description of any restorative discipline practices used before the action was taken. Raises the age cap for placing a student in a DAEP for serious offense that would otherwise require expulsion from 10 to 12. Removes aggravated robbery from the offenses for which a student must be removed and placed in a DAEP.
  • HB 1163 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez adds to the current law regarding the use of restraints on special education students to provide that the commissioner-adopted procedures on restraints must prohibit employees/volunteers/contractors from using any variation of a floor or ground restraint or other technique resulting in immobilization in a prone/supine position; and prohibit them from fully taking a student down to the floor or ground except as necessary to help with a health emergency.
  • HB 1194 by Rep. Wu requires districts and charter schools to report each year to TEA on the number of incidents during the year, organized by campus, involving administration of restraints, complaints filed against a student for failing to comply with graduated sanctions, citations, and arrests. The report must include demographic information regarding the student involved in such an incident.
  • SB 414 by Sen. Eddie Lucio expands the statute regarding immunity from disciplinary proceedings to apply to "district" rather than "professional" employees. Revises a section of the Penal Code regarding the use of force to include force by an employee or volunteer against a student if permitted as a form of corporal punishment, or when and to the degree the actor believes the force is necessary to protect the safety of students or staff provided that the use of force does not deprive the student of a basic human need. (Removes current language that allows reasonable use of force to further a special purpose or to maintain discipline.) Specifies that the use of a prohibited aversive technique is not a justified use of force.
  • SB 619 by Sen. Lucio provides that a student in a Texas school district or in a UIL competition will be banned from future extracurricular participation sponsored/sanctioned by the district or UIL if the student engages in conduct containing the elements of assault against a referee or other official and in retaliation for that person's actions in performing their duty.