Time:01:09 PM to 04:59 PM
Place:HCR 0112
This Meeting was called to order by
Senator Newell
King K.
This Report was prepared by
Kelli Kelty
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
Bills Addressed: Action Taken:
Committee Overview
Introduction of Task Force Members
Introduction of the Student Advisory Group
Summary of Current State Law
Overview of National Research and Trends
Overview of Colorado Research and Trends
Public Testimony
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

01:09 PM -- Committee Overview

Senator Newell welcomed everyone to the task force and discussed committee procedure. Senator Newell explained that the committee is required to take public testimony at every meeting. She discussed the purpose of the task force and gave a brief overview of the themes and dates of future meetings.

01:16 PM

Senator Newell discussed the bill limit of the committee and the Legislative Council review process. She also set forth the bill deadlines for the committee.

01:22 PM -- Introduction of Task Force Members

Senator Newell asked that each of the task force members introduce themselves and give a brief overview of their background related to school discipline. Senator Newell reminded the members to submit a brief introductory statement to Legislative Council Staff. The members introduced themselves to the committee and discussed their background.

01:32 PM

The members continued to introduce themselves.

01:43 PM

Senator Newell introduced Legislative Council and Legislative Legal Services staff.

01:43 PM -- Introduction of the Student Advisory Group

Senator Newell asked if any members of the Student Advisory Group wanted to introduce themselves to the committee. Anahi Miranda, Brandon Wagoner, Jose Cordova, and Yamili Quezada made a short presentation to the committee. The group gave a brief overview of incidences of school discipline throughout the state, and spoke about their experience with zero-tolerance policies and the purpose of Padres y Jovenes Unidos.

01:53 PM -- Summary of Current State Law

Jonathan Senft, Legislative Council Staff, came to the table and gave a brief overview of state law addressing zero-tolerance discipline policies. Senator Newell directed the members to the zero-tolerance memo in their binders. Mr. Senft discussed the legislative history of state law concerning mandatory expulsions. Mr. Senft responded to questions from the committee. Mr. Cairns asked about a bill from the 2011 legislative session concerning school bullying. Mr. Senft responded that he would get that information to the committee at a later time. Mr. Garnett asked whether there has been a state effort to comprehensively return the administration of disciplining policies back to schools.

02:04 PM

Senator King asked about whether medical marijuana is defined as a controlled substance pursuant to the mandating expulsion law and whether a student will be expelled for bringing medical marijuana onto school properties. Mr. Senft responded that medical marijuana is prohibited on school grounds.

02:06 PM

Mr. Cairns asked whether there is anything in statute that requires schools to report incidences to law enforcement.

02:07 PM -- Overview of National Research and Trends

02:07 PM --
Seema Ahmad, representing the Advancement Project, came to the table to discuss zero-tolerance policies and the "school-to-prison pipeline." Ms. Ahmad spoke about the definition of zero tolerance and how it is now commonplace to affiliate school with prison when speaking of this issue. Ms. Ahmad discussed historical roots and sources of zero tolerance, such as the Safe and Gun-Free Schools Act, the shootings at Columbine High School, No Child Left Behind, and "Accountability and Testing." Ms. Ahmad said that the majority of zero-tolerance implementation is seen through local policies at the school and school district level.

02:17 PM

Ms. Ahmad said that zero-tolerance is a failed policy as it:

Ms. Ahmad discussed consequences of contact with the juvenile justice system and gave an overview of National School Discipline Statistics as of 2006. Ms. Ahmad said that, as of 2006, there were 3.3 million children who were suspended at least once. Ms. Ahmad provided statistics from different jurisdictions throughout the country. Ms. Ahmad referred to a recent Texas longitudinal study that reflected the racial and disability-related disparities in discipline. Ms. Ahmad said that the report indicates that a student who was suspended or expelled for a discretionary incident is twice as likely to repeat a grade than a student at a similar school who was never suspended or expelled. Ms. Ahmad said that there is a wide variation among school discipline policies throughout similar schools.

02:27 PM

Ms. Ahmad spoke about national attention focused on reform and local reform efforts. Ms. Ahmad highlighted Baltimore's school discipline code, as well as cooperative agreements to reduce the criminilization of minor offenses in Clayton County, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Ahmad discussed state reform efforts in Connecticut, Florida, and North Carolina. She said that Colorado is a model for the rest of the country and that legislation similar to Senate Bill 11-133 has been introduced in the Texas legislature. Ms. Ahmad summarized trends in zero-tolerance reform, including:

02:36 PM

Representative Nikkel asked if the task force could receive a copy of the presentation. Mr. Garnett commented that the parental time involved with dealing with the juvenile justice system can have a negative economic impact on a family. Mr. Garnett asked whether there have been studies done that indicate that kids have a negative perspective on authority as a result of zero-tolerance policies.

02:40 PM

Ms. Rudden spoke about the financial burden on parents related to the juvenile justice system. Chief Jackson asked whether there is any part of school tolerance that Ms. Ahmad thinks makes schools safer. Ms. Ahmad responded that she believes that the ultimate goal is safe schools and that the means of getting to that goal vary.

02:45 PM

Senator Newell asked whether there is any data that articulates what situations are appropriate for restorative justice. Senator King asked what the difference is between suspension and expulsion, particularly related to reporting to law enforcement. Mr. Garnett responded that mandatory reporting is typically most strongly associated with sexual offenses. Senator King asked who has the authority to decide if there is an arrest involved with a suspension or expulsion. Mr. Garnett responded that generally that decision is left to the officer on the scene, and that there is generally not a mandatory arrest provision associated with expulsions or suspensions. Ms. Garcia commented that in Pueblo, once the police are called into a school building, it then becomes a police matter. Sergeant Ross commented that it is important to come up with a good definition of "refer to law enforcement." Senator Newell said that there are a few definitions that she thinks need to be fine-tuned as the task force discusses this issue.

02:55 PM

Ms. Plummer asked about the impact of zero-tolerance policies on teachers. Senator Newell commented that the school perspective will be addressed at future meetings in more detail. Senator King asked for clarification between "ticketed" and "arrested." Mr. Garnett commented that the confidentiality built-in to the juvenile justice system can actually have a negative impact on children in the system.

03:00 PM

The committee took a brief recess.

03:14 PM

The committee came back to order.

03:14 PM --
Jennifer Bacon, representing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), came to the table. Ms. Bacon said that she is here to speak on behalf of Dr. Levester Lyons, President of the Aurora Branch of the NAACP. Ms. Bacon gave an overview of the history of the NAACP. Ms. Bacon spoke about a 2010 NAACP report concerning the over-incarceration of colored people. Ms. Bacon said that the NAACP has worked with the Advancement Project and uses the same sets of data.

03:24 PM

Ms. Bacon provided expulsion and referral to law enforcement statistics from the Aurora Branch of the NAACP. Ms. Bacon responded to questions from the committee concerning how zero-tolerance policies remove discretion from schools.

03:30 PM

Senator Hudak asked for clarification concerning certain data Ms. Bacon provided from the Aurora Branch of the NAACP. Senator Newell asked Ms. Bacon what an ideal solution would be concerning disciplinary processes in schools. Ms. Bacon responded that it is important to take into account cultural differences at the local level. Ms. Bacon also said it is important to look at the attrition rate of ninth graders in schools.

03:36 PM --
Jennifer Dounay Zinth, representing the Education Commission of the States, came to the table. Ms. Zinth spoke to a few of the questions that arose earlier in the meeting. Ms. Zinth spoke about the Texas longitudinal study and said that there is a lot of research that does not support the zero-tolerance response. Ms. Zinth said that, according to the Texas report, just three percent of the disciplinary actions for which students were suspended or expelled were for offenses that Texas law requires administrators to respond to. Ninety-seven percent were completely at the discretion of the local administrator. Ms. Zinth also discussed a 2009 report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) concerning school resource officers (SROs).

03:46 PM

Ms. Zinth spoke about 2009 Florida legislation concerning restorative justice and alternative policies to zero-tolerance. Ms. Zinth stated that the policy specifies that zero-tolerance policies do not require the reporting of petty acts to law enforcement and that school districts are encouraged to use alternatives to expulsion unless a threat of safety is exposed.

03:54 PM

Senator Newell asked for links to the reports and legislation that Ms. Zinth discussed. Representative Nikkel asked if Ms. Zinth could get the task force the list of recommendations that she discussed. Senator King asked if there are any studies on high school students and remediation issues and whether students with remediation issues are more likely to be suspended and/or expelled. Ms. Zinth responded that she has not found any research on remediation related to suspension or expulsion. Conversation ensued between Ms. Zinth and Mr. Cairns concerning the reporting of minor assaults to law enforcement. Mr. Garnett asked whether there are any studies examining the impact of mandatory suspension on a troubled young person. Ms. Garcia asked if there is any data on an increase of citations in schools due to the presence of SROs.

04:04 PM -- Overview of Colorado Research and Trends

04:04 PM --
Marco Nunez and Dionna Hudson, representing Padres Unidos, came to the table. Mr. Nunez spoke briefly about previous testimony concerning zero-tolerance policies. Ms. Hudson said that too many students are being referred to law enforcement.

04:10 PM

Senator Hudak asked about data concerning Jefferson County's suspension and expulsion rates, as well as its referrals to law enforcement. Sgt. Ross asked whether there was any data related to referrals to law enforcement and how many of these referrals result in ticketing. Mr. Nunez said that this data is hard to obtain. Mr. Nunez spoke about Denver Public Schools and the passage of its new discipline code in 2008 and mentioned that there is inconsistency throughout the district.

04:25 PM

Mr. Nunez said that different counties approach school discipline in different ways. Mr. Nunez referred to a state statute addressing habitually disruptive students. Mr. Nunez commented on the challenge of addressing the vast disparities throughout schools in the application of zero-tolerance policies and how to create policies with greater consistency. Mr. Nunez discussed impacts on zero-tolerance and the criminalization of youth.

04:31 PM

Ms. Hudson spoke about her personal experience with zero-tolerance policies. Representative Szabo asked about data from Jefferson County and how the ticketing process works. Senator Hudak commented that Jefferson County is the district where Columbine occurred and asked whether there might be an overcompensation in that regard. Committee discussion ensued concerning the charge of the committee.

04:39 PM -- Public Testimony

The following individuals testified to the task force:

04:40 PM --
Pamela Bisceglia, representing Advocacy Denver, came to the table. Ms. Bisceglia spoke about the discipline of students with disabilities in schools and the need for comprehensive representation in data. Ms. Bisceglia responded to questions from the committee.

04:47 PM --
Mr. George Walker, representing himself, came to the table. Mr. Walker said that he is a retired public school teacher. Mr. Walker spoke about the testing process in the state and how the pressures it could create in schools might impact zero-tolerance.

04:53 PM --
DeAnn Major, representing Advocacy Denver, came to the table. Ms. Major expressed concern about returning authority to the local level, and also cautioned about court referrals. Ms. Major responded to questions from the committee.

04:56 PM

Senator Newell made closing comments to the task force and reminded the committee about the next meeting on August 24th.

04:59 PM

The committee adjourned.