'Defiance' seen as cause of Calif. suspensions

CHRISTINA HOAG Associated Press Published:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- School suspensions used to be for serious offenses such as fighting or bringing weapons and drugs on campus, but these days they're just as likely for talking back to a teacher, cursing, walking into class late or even eye rolling.

More than 40 percent of suspensions in California are for "willful defiance," or anything that disrupts class, and critics say it needs to be eliminated because it's overused for trivial offenses, disproportionately used against black and Latino boys and alienates the students who need most to stay in school.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) earlier this year introduced a bill to remove willful defiance as a reason for suspension and expulsion.

His bill, AB 2242, would replace that category with specific behaviors such as harassment, threats or intimidation.