SB21-182: A Basic Guide

Legislation | 03/17/2021

Bri Buentello
Government Affairs Director

Learn about SB21-182, a bill aimed at addressing disproportionate discipline and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline in Colorado. 

The Problem

During the 2018 – 19 school year in Colorado Black students were 3.2 times more likely, and Hispanic students were 1.7 times more likely to be suspended than their white peers. Previously, more than 4,000 students across Colorado were cited for or arrested for a non-violent misdemeanor on school property. Students who are suspended or ticketed at school are more likely to repeat a grade or drop out than students who were not, as well as more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system – often called the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

The Research

Research has demonstrated that Black and Hispanic students are often punished more harshly for the same infractions than their white counterparts – demonstrating the role of racial bias in the school discipline system.

A Policy Solution

SB21-182 School Discipline, sponsored by Senator Janet Buckner and Representative Leslie Herod addresses disproportionate disciplinary practices and aims to disrupt and end the school to prison pipeline, which: 

  • Ends the use of handcuffs in elementary schools.
  • Requires improved discipline reporting, encourages developmentally appropriate discipline methods, and requires schools to address disproportionate discipline. 
  • Decreases the use of ticketing and interaction with law enforcement as methods of student discipline
  • Requires a higher standard for suspensions and ensures suspension only occurs when other options are exhausted.
  • Shifts much needed resources towards restorative justice practices through the Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) grant.
  • Strengthens the standards for School Resource Officer selection and requires an evaluation of performance.

In Their Words

“I am so glad to see this bill come to reality because growing up I saw the way the school-to-prison pipeline affected my siblings. I knew if my brothers would of had the education they deserved their lives would have been completely different." - Natalie Perez, Parent Leaders and Stand Parent Advocacy Fellow

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