Sen. Chris Murphy Seeks Alternative To School Suspensions, Expulsions

By:  Fran Schneidau
CBS New York

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy wants to foster a new approach for dealing with bad behavior in schools.

Saying that black students are disproportionately suspended or expelled, the Democrat is pushing for federal money to provide schools nationwide with the resources they need to use evidence-based strategies that promote good behavior, rather than punishing students for acting out.

“The sad truth is that in the state of Connecticut, if you’re an African-American student and you commit the same offense as a white student, you are 2 1/2 times more likely to get suspended or expelled,” Murphy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau. “That’s just unconscionable.”

The Supportive School Climate Act would address the so-called school-to-prison pipeline by reducing suspensions and expulsions and promoting positive, trusting relationships between students, especially those who have been abused, with adults in a school environment.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is also one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

Murphy said affirmative approaches are working in a number of schools.

In Bridgeport, for example, “the school district did something really extraordinary,” he said. “They took all of their school resource officers — the cops that are in schools — and they took them out of the hallways and put them just on the streets surrounding the schools so they could respond to any emergencies, but that they weren’t arresting kids inside the school.”

The change reduced school-based arrests in Bridgeport by half, Murphy noted.