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New bill seeks to address school-to-prison-pipeline

A new bill working its way through the legislature seeks to help students who have spent time in jail return to school successfully and help shut down the “school-to-prison-pipeline.”

The bill, HB 1191, was first introduced last session by Reps. Roger Goodman and Noel Frame.

The bill is designed to create a simplified and uniform notification system for school receiving students who are returning from time spent in jail or a juvenile detention facility. Doing so, according to the bill’s authors, will enhance students’ ability to reintegrate into school.

Students who have gotten in trouble with the law are most vulnerable when they return to school. They can either reintegrate successfully back into the school environment, or might face a hostile environment that could reinforce their negative life choices,” said Goodman. 

Current state law stipulates that when a student who has spent time in jail or a juvenile detention facility returns to school, law enforcement is required to notify the school district. This law was passed in 1995, however the Washington State Auditor’s office found that fewer than 10% of schools were complying with the law.

In a recent video explaining the bill, Goodman noted that the disclosures required by the notification laws sometimes causes sensitive information about students to get out.

Changes the bill proposes include refining what crimes schools are notified about and who is required to be notified. The bills also ushers in new rights for students.

Should the bill pass, school principals would still be notified about students who have committed violent offences, sexual offences, firearms offences, and drug dealing offences. 

No longer, however, would schools be notified about students who have been diverted away from court for minor alcohol and drug offenses. 

Students whose minor drug offenses were adjudicated in court would also have the right to know who the school principal intends to inform and possibly appeal that decision.

HB1191 balances the need for schools to know about students with criminal history while allowing students who might have made a mistake to reintegrate into the community and move toward a brighter future,” Hobbes continued.

HB1191 passed out of committee has been referred to rules review.

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