Today the House Education Committee heard HB23-1109, School Policies And Student Conduct. This is a bill that promotes restorative practices, ensures reduced legal system involvement, fosters fairness in a system that otherwise considers students guilty until proven innocent, and creates accountability for unregulated and untrained expulsion hearing officers. Tina Carroll, educator, parent, and Stand Advocacy Fellow prepared testimony in support of HB23-1109 that was read during the hearing by parent organizer, Natalie Perez. Below are those remarks.
“Hello, my name is Tina Carroll and I have a third-grade student that attends school in Jefferson County. I am an educator who also serves as a conduct and community standards officer. As a parent, educator, and servant leader in the community, I believe HB23-1109 closely aligns and has the potential to be the change we need to see in our schools and communities. The biggest component of this bill that resonates with me is the responsibility and pertinent role of the hearing officer. It is truly unimageable that we have individuals deciding our children’s future who are not trained in trauma, conflict resolution, cultural competency and familiar with milestones in children development. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it is clear that we are allowing our students to enter into an education system at a disadvantage. If we don’t make the change now to have skillful and well-versed advocates making informed decisions for our students and their families than we are accepting a system that funnels students out of the classroom and into the juvenile and criminal legal system.
It is no secret that racial and ethnic minorities and children with disabilities are disproportionately represented in our legal system and in our classrooms. And to continue operating in a system where hearing officers are permitted to take a more punitive approach, instead of a responsive one is disheartening and a casualty in our education system.
Members of the house, today I ask that you vote yes on this bill and take a stand for all children in the state of Colorado and mandate that we use best practices, by making sure that all hearing officers are subject matter experts, have ongoing trainings, and adequate resources for effective life changing outcomes and behavior modifications that will keep our children in the classrooms where they belong. ”