Legislators Pass Bill to Improve Classroom Safety
Norwich teacher Heidi Kapszukiewicz, and Manchester school social worker Charity Korb were among CEA members who testified about aggressive student behavior at legislative hearings this spring.
May 10, 2018
In an important step toward ensuring the safety of Connecticut students and teachers, the State House and Senate have both passed SB 453. It protects students and teachers in the classroom, and ensures that students who need assistance get the help they need. It also helps decrease the number of those who later wind up in the criminal justice system by providing assistance now, in a pro-active manner. This is a better result for everyone.
The bill requires all public school districts to ensure daily classroom safety, which is defined as
"...a classroom environment in which students and school employees are not physically injured by other students, school employees or parents, or exposed to such physical injury to others."
CEA members have been contacting lawmakers all session long, urging them to pass this important bill, and lawmakers clearly heard and responded to their concerns.
"We can no longer ignore these behavioral problems and continue to deprive students of the help they so desperately need," said Bridgeport teacher Ana Batista. "As a Latina and a Bridgeport teacher, I understand the needs of our minority students and their families. We must take every step to help them now before it's too late—before these at-risk students end up incarcerated or worse—dead."
CEA leaders, staff, and members testified at legislative hearings, submitted written testimony, and called, emailed, and talked one-on-one with legislators to stress the need for SB 453.
"This bill promotes commonsense solutions that keep our teachers and our students safe from aggressive behaviors," said Bloomfield teacher Glenn Spencer. "It also helps end the school-to-prison pipeline by providing students with the appropriate supports and resources needed to address their behavioral issues—before they become juvenile and criminal justice issues. Rather than push them into the criminal justice system, let's get them the help they need now."
The bill now moves on to the governor for his signature.
- If the governor signs the bill, it will become part of state statutes and will require the following measures.
- District plans that determine what conduct violates daily classroom safety.
- Prevention and intervention strategies to include individual interventions with a child who violates daily classroom safety, as well as promotion of parental involvement to prevent violent acts.
- An expanded, culturally competent curriculum focused on social-emotional learning that includes trauma-informed instruction.
- Therapeutic support for students, as needed, following violations of daily classroom safety.
- Training and assistance from the State Department of Education.
- A meeting between an administrator and the teacher of a student who has violated safety guidelines to discuss how the student's behavior will be addressed and what interventions will be implemented to support the teacher and student.
- School notification to the parents or guardians of the student who has violated safety guidelines, as well as the parents or guardians of students who witnessed the violation.
The bill calls for districts to have a plan in place for daily classroom safety by September 1, 2019.