Why AB 2242 Would Have Counteracted Zero Tolerance Discipline, LA Libraries Reclaim Hours Lost to Budget Cuts…and MoreOctober 16th, 2012 by Taylor Walker
AB 2242 AND THE BATTLE AGAINST ZERO TOLERANCE
Assembly member Roger Dickinson authored AB 2242 to combat California’s “zero tolerance” school discipline by removing the destructively catch-all phrase “willful defiance” as grounds for expulsion. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Brown because it took disciplinary discretion away from local officials. Dickinson explains why the veto means that kids all over California will continue to be subjected to often whimsical definitions of what constitutes unacceptable behavior. (It’s our understanding that Dickinson plans to reintroduce the bill later on—we’ll keep you updated.)
Here’s a clip from Roger Dickinson’s op-ed for the Sacramento Bee:
I authored Assembly Bill 2242 to help schools trying to increase student attendance and achievement; keeping students who are struggling with behavior on track to graduate and out of the criminal justice system. Everyone wins when students stay in school. By increasing graduation rates by 10 percent, we could prevent 400 murders and 20,000 aggravated assaults in California each year.
Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown on the basis of preserving local discretion. It came under criticism in a Ben Boychuk column (“Brown wisely keeps local control for school discipline,” Oct. 4).
However, under the guise of leaving discretion to local officials, recent data have found that African Americans are more than 3 1/2 times as likely to be suspended or expelled as Caucasian students, with some districts suspending 60 percent of African American students. Students of color are disproportionately suspended and expelled for low level, subjective offenses.
The problem is not a lack of local discretion, but discretion exercised in a highly discriminatory, sometimes arbitrary manner that kicks children out of school as the easy, out of sight, out of mind fix. The real solution is to keep kids in school and address their behavioral issues with proven alternative means of correction.
Currently, students can be suspended or expelled for “willful defiance,” which is undefined in law. Willful defiance was the grounds for 42 percent of all suspensions in 2010-11, equaling 2,200 students per school day – the highest rate in the nation. This subjective language permits expulsion for anything from failing to turn in homework, not paying attention, not taking off a hat, or swearing in class.
AB 2242 removed willful defiance as grounds for expelling a student from school. In its place, it incorporated specific language on behavior that warrants an expulsion, such as harassment, threats, and intimidation. The bill kept the ability for school administrators to suspend students for up to five days for each offense.
VOTERS RESTORE LOST LA LIBRARY HOURS
LA public libraries will be opening once again Friday mornings and Monday and Wednesday nights, thanks to legislation that restored library funding after severe budget cuts over the last four years.
Starting today, the added hours at the city’s 73 libraries is the second phase of returning the public library system to its former glory. The turnaround came after L.A. Weekly exposed severe budget cuts to the libraries. Public library officials and the librarians’ union credit that article for the creation and passage of Measure L, which infused the library system with more cash.
In a recent press release about the restored hours, Villaraigosa noted that libraries “are vital neighborhood resources” and that it “pained me greatly to make the decision to reduce library hours in 2010. Restoration gets the city back on track and one step closer to fully restoring our city’s library hours. None of this would have been possible without voter support of Measure L.”
We’re glad Villaraigosa finally came around to the fact that libraries are important – immigrants use them as places to acclimate themselves to their new city, senior citizens have a place to stay cool during the summer and get out of the apartment, children of single parents go there after school and stay off the streets, and unemployed folks with no computers at home use computers at the libraries to find work.
As City Councilman Eric Garcetti rightly told the LA Times:
“Libraries are important to the soul of the city and together today we reclaim a part of that soul.”
CITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS POTENTIAL IMMIGRANT I.D. SYSTEM
LA Mayor Villaraigosa will be pushing for immigrant I.D. cards at a City Council meeting, today (Tuesday). The I.D. would assist immigrants with things like banking services and would also help law enforcement officers with identification issues.
The LA Times’ Catherine Saillant has the story. Here’s a clip:
“It will be an official ID,” Villaraigosa said in a recent interview.
Critics said Villaraigosa’s proposal is the latest indication that Los Angeles leaders are taking an increasingly supportive view of undocumented immigrants as they encourage them to join in the city’s civic life.
“It is clearly an accommodation,” said Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group critical of illegal immigration. “Los Angeles is making it easier for people who have violated federal immigration laws to live in the city.”
But backers said the mayor is doing the right thing, pointing out that the initiative could reduce crime because fewer people would have to carry cash.
The idea for the city ID card originated in his office, the mayor said, as part of previous efforts to help immigrants open bank accounts so they wouldn’t become targets of crime.
Councilman Richard Alarcon recently introduced a more limited proposal to create a new library card that could also serve as a debit card. But Villaraigosa said he wants to go further and have the city begin offering full-fledged photo IDs.
A handful of cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, issue identification cards to anyone who can prove residency, regardless of immigration status. Villaraigosa said it’s time that Los Angeles — home to an estimated 4.3-million immigrants — joined them.
BANK EXEC. WHO ACCUSED LAPD OF BRUTALITY WAS USING BATH SALTS
We’ve reprinted most of the LAPPL’s statement, because it’s a wonderfully outrageous story:
The truthfulness of many bankers was questioned following the 2008 financial collapse. The tales some of them wove unraveled as they drove the collapse of the financial system. So, what do you get when you cross a user ofbath salts with a banker who seeks a payday from the City of Los Angeles? Meet Brian Mulligan – the man best known for his day job as a high-powered banker with Deutsche Bank. Less known about Mulligan is that he, by his own admission, was a frequent user of “bath salts,” a substance that causes euphoric sensations and violent delusions.
Mulligan brought himself to the public eye recently with a wild, lurid lawsuit against the LAPD. As recounted in John Millers report on the CBS evening news, Mulligan’s story reads like a bad screenplay rejected by Fox TV or Universal Pictures, where he had previously been an executive. As detailed by Richard Winton Los Angeles Times, Mulligan accused LAPD officers of detaining him on May 15, 2012, forcing him into a low rent motel, threatening him with death if he left, and then beating him severely when he fled.
“Bath salts lead to delusion, and as in this case, bizarre lawsuits,” said Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “Hopefully, now that the truth is coming out, instead of continuing to spend his money on lawyers and trying to weave a fictitious tale of abuse at the hands of the LAPD, Mulligan will seek the substance abuse treatment he so clearly needs.”
The LAPD acknowledged that they had encountered Mulligan after receiving calls he had been trying to enter into vehicles in a Highland Park neighborhood. According to news reports regarding the arrest report, Mulligan admitted to LAPD officers he had recently ingested bath salts, not slept for days, and felt depressed. According to news reports, at his request Mulligan was dropped at the low rent motel building. Sometime later, officers again spotted him trying to break into cars. After a short foot chase, officers caught up with him, Mulligan took a fighting stance and reasonable force was used to arrest him. Through his attorney at the time, J. Michael Flanagan, Mulligan adamantly denied ever admitting to LAPD officers that he used “white lightning,” a commercial name for bath salts.
But, unfortunately for Mr. Mulligan and fortunately for the truth, his own voice caught on audiotape proves he was a regular user of bath salts. After seeing a story about Mr. Mulligan in the daily NewsWatch, distributed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, officers from the Glendale Police Department recognized Mr. Mulligan from their own encounter with Mulligan two days before the initial LAPD contact on May 13, 2012.
In that situation, Mulligan contacted the Glendale Police Department dispatch and flagged down a Glendale police officer in front of the Glendale Police Department, claiming that helicopters were following him. That Glendale police officer spoke to Mulligan for approximately11 minutes.
After the officer assured Mulligan there were no helicopters following him, Mulligan stated to the officer, “I could be nuts… I am a little paranoid.” During the subsequent conversation, Mulligan admitted using bath salts approximately 20 times, with his last use just “two weeks ago,” and that his family was aware of his use of the drug.