Zero tolerance, field trip donation bills pass Ga. legislature

ATLANTA – The state legislature approved a bill intended to cut down on “excessive zero tolerance discipline” in schools statewide.

“This legislation gives kids in Georgia a voice. They will now have due process against a policy that makes no distinction between well-behaved students who make youthful mistakes and those whose misconduct warrants harsher punishment,” Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, said in a news release. “It’s time we start applying some common-sense when disciplining our children, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.”

SB 299 gives judges more discretion, proponents say, and changes state law to make a first offense equal to a so-called “delinquent act” instead of a felony.

Meanwhile, under a separate bill (HB 1200) the General Assembly passed, school districts could soon seek “donations from legal sources” to help cover the cost of school field trips.

“Field trips give students a hands-on approach to concepts and lessons that might not be as easily grasped in a classroom setting,” Mike Glanton, D-Ellenwood, said in a news release. “Unfortunately, with budget cuts to school systems, along with tax base erosions, schools might not be able to afford these valuable programs without help from donations. This legislation gives school systems a way to continue education-related field trips so that Georgia students will receive a first class education.”

Both bills head to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s desk.

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