Be it enacted by the people of the State of Nebraska,
Section 1. Sections 1 to 6 of this act shall be known and may be cited as the Too Young to Suspend Act.
Sec. 2. The purpose of the Too Young to Suspend Act is to prohibit early childhood education and kindergarten students from being suspended or expelled from school except in limited circumstances. The intent is to prevent suspensions or expulsions of difficult young students who may disrupt school activities or willfully defy school authorities, but who are not a danger to other students.
Sec. 3. For purposes of the Too Young to Suspend Act:
(1) Expulsion shall have the same meaning as in section 79-256;
(2) Mandatory reassignment shall have the same meaning as in section 79-256;
(3) Serious bodily injury shall have the same meaning as provided in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1415(k)(7)(D), as such subdivision existed on January 1, 2019; and
(4) Suspension shall have the same meaning as short-term suspension in section 79-256.
Sec. 4. (1) Each school board shall adopt and promulgate a policy prohibiting the suspension or expulsion of any early childhood education or kindergarten student unless the school principal determines that such student has committed one of the following acts:
(a) The student willfully caused, attempted to cause, or threatened serious bodily injury to another student or person while in a school building, on school grounds, in a school-owned vehicle, or at a school- sponsored activity or athletic event and such action was not an act of self-defense; or
(b) The student possessed or furnished to another person a firearm, knife, explosive, or other dangerous weapon, substance, or object while in a school building, on school grounds, in a school-owned vehicle, or at a school-sponsored activity or athletic event.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the superintendent of a school district may:
(a) Use a mandatory reassignment to transfer an early childhood education or kindergarten student to another school within the school district, if such transfer would result in a more appropriate placement due to any disability or special need of such student; or
(b) Suspend an early childhood education or kindergarten student during the pendency of an investigation into whether a student can be lawfully suspended or expelled pursuant to this section.
(3) Except as otherwise provided in the Too Young to Suspend Act, any suspension, expulsion, or mandatory reassignment of an early childhood education or kindergarten student shall also comply with the requirements of the Student Discipline Act.
Sec. 5. On or before March 1, 2020, the Commissioner of Education shall issue guidelines for the implementation of the Too Young to Suspend Act, including recommendations on the length of a suspension for acts described in subsection (1) of section 4 of this act.
Sec. 6. On or before July 15, 2021, and on or before each July 15 thereafter, each school district shall submit a report to the State Department of Education detailing any suspension or expulsion of an early childhood education or kindergarten student.
Sec. 7. Section 79-265, Reissue Revised Statutes of Nebraska, is amended to read:
79-265 (1) Except as otherwise provided in the Too Young to Suspend Act, a
The principal may deny any student the right to attend school or to take part in any school function for a period of up to five school days on the following grounds:
(a) Conduct constituting grounds for expulsion as set out in the Student Discipline Act; or
(b) Any other violation of rules and standards of behavior adopted under the act.
(2) Such short-term suspension shall be made only after the principal has made an investigation of the alleged conduct or violation and has determined that such suspension is necessary to help any student, to further school purposes, or to prevent an interference with school purposes.
(3) Before such short-term suspension takes effect, the student shall be given oral or written notice of the charges against him or her, an explanation of the evidence the authorities have, and an opportunity to present his or her version.
(4) Within twenty-four hours or such additional time as is reasonably necessary following such suspension, the principal shall send a written statement to the student and his or her parent or guardian describing the student's conduct, misconduct, or violation of the rule or standard and the reasons for the action taken. The principal shall make a reasonable effort to hold a conference with the parent or guardian before or at the time the student returns to school.
(5) Any student who is suspended pursuant to this section may be given an opportunity to complete any classwork, including, but not limited to, examinations, missed during the period of suspension. Each public school district shall develop and adopt guidelines stating the criteria school officials shall use in determining whether and to what extent such opportunity for completion will be granted to suspended students. The guidelines shall be provided to the student and parent or guardian at the time of suspension.
Sec. 8. Original section 79-265, Reissue Revised Statutes of Nebraska, is repealed.