NTF Issue Paper: legwatch145.doc. 4-17.

BACKGROUND. Across Nebraska, public school teachers face an ever increasing number of physical assaults by violent and destructive students. Teachers are stabbed, punched, and knocked down. Ranging from mild attacks to serious, bloody assaults, teachers now find themselves unable to defend themselves under current state law. Moreover, in many cases, school administrations do little to help these teachers or punish students, who often face only temporary suspensions. Teachers who physically engage students face administrative sanction and parental lawsuits. Excellent teachers are quitting the profession from frustration. At the behest of beleaguered teachers, conservative State Sen. Mike Groene introduced LB 595.

THE BILL. His bill would permit school teachers and administrators to use physical force, restraint, or removal from a class for abusive, disruptive and violent students or those showing destructive behavior. A teacher could remove a student who seriously and repeatedly interferes with teacher ability to teach by being abusive or disruptive or hinders ability of students to focus and learn. Teachers and administrators could use physical restraint to protect school property from damage. Teachers and administrators reasonably defending themselves, other teachers, administrators, or students could not become subject to lawsuits or administrative discipline. A principal could not return such student to a classroom until teacher, principal, and parent hold a conference to agree on a solution but may place such student in another classroom, an alternative education program, or in in-school or out of school suspension. If a teacher refuses consent, a conference among the teacher, student parent or legal guardian, and principal could develop a plan of action. Classroom discipline is of vital importance to allow students to focus and learn and teachers to effectively instruct an entire class. The present Student Discipline Act describes student due process rights, but there is no mention of what actions teachers and administrators may take to handle an unruly student. LB 595 allows teachers and administrators to maintain order in classrooms by permitting them to set boundaries and use necessary force or physical restraint to subdue a student. Testifying in favor of the bill surprisingly was the NE State Education Association, the teachers union. Testifying against were the ACLU-NE and NE Council of School Administrators. Voting to advance LB 595 to General File were Education Committee members Ebke, Erdman, Linehan, Groene, and Morfeld. Voting against advancement were Sens. Kolowski and Walz. There is no fiscal impact to taxpayers from this legislation.

OPPONENTS. Opponents like the ACLU-NE raised the specter of children being abused, injured, or killed. They whined about minority youth disproportionately targeted or the bill allowing teachers too many options to attack students.

TAKE ACTION NOW. Teachers need and deserve our support. Contact your state senator today to vote to pass LB 595, so that our children can learn safely and comfortably in their classrooms, so that teachers can teach without fearing distraction or violence against themselves. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com for contact information, if you are not sure who is your state senator.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 4-17 C.

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