MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives passed Senate legislation on Tuesday that would create processes by which students could be excluded from K-12 classrooms.

Senate Bill 157 (SB157) by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) would create procedures for teachers and school staff to remove disruptive students from the classroom. It would also establish systems for allowing an excluded student to return to class and procedures for relocating students who persist in disruption.

Under the bill, local boards of education would be required to adopt policies. It would also create immunity for education employees who exclude a student based on the policies, provided the employee does not use cruel or excessive force, act with malice, or violate the state or U.S. Constitution.

State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) carried the bill on the House floor, describing a systemic issue of disruptive and abusive students in Alabama classrooms.

"The reason for this bill is, right now, we have a situation where we know we have disruptive students in our classrooms," Garrett said. "It's inhibiting our ability to get teachers in the classroom, to keep teachers, to recruit teachers; it's impacting the learning of the other students."

"We have teachers that are being abused, students that are being physically and verbally abused, we have students that are just not able to function in the classroom, and it's disrupting everything in the classroom," he added. "And the problem is, what happens too often is that a student is asked to leave a classroom and to cool down, and then ultimately is just told to go back into the classroom, and the situation is never resolved. Boards, superintendents, schools, principals are all afraid of lawsuits; we understand that. But this is a situation that is impacting learning in our public schools."

Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, a teacher may exclude from the classroom any student who does any of the following:

(1) Engages in disorderly conduct.

(2) Behaves in a manner that obstructs the teaching or learning process of others in the classroom.

(3) Threatens, abuses, intimidates, or attempts to intimidate an education employee or another student.

(4) Willfully disobeys an education employee.

(5) Uses abusive or profane language directed at an education employee.

Students removed from a classroom will be placed under the control of the school principal or a designee. If a student returns to class and is disruptive again three times in a 30-day period, the school may transfer the student to an alternative school if one exists in the district.

The bill received bipartisan support in the House, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle thanking Garrett for carrying the bill.

"We have teachers now that are being physically assaulted," said State Rep. Bob Fincher (R-Woodland). "It's turning into a jungle. You know, you saw the movie The Blackboard Jungle; it's literally turning into a jungle in some places."

State Rep. Patrick Sellers (D-Birmingham) gave a passionate plea for discipline to be maintained in the home, garnering him cheers of support and applause.

"When we took God out of school, part of your problem arrived," Sellers said. "When you took the paddle out of the hand of the teacher, part of your problem arrived. I have to hear this conversation every single day from my wife because she deals with the discipline in her school. And I tell her every day, you need a resident butt-whooper in your school to handle discipline. Too many times, the teachers and the principals cannot do it all. And we cannot legislate in the home, but if parents are listening, you need to discipline your child before they get to school."

State Rep. Laura Hall (D-Birmingham) successfully attached an amendment to the bill requiring reports of disciplinary actions to be submitted to the Alabama State Department of Education.

The bill passed the House by 100-0, with one abstention. The Senate must agree to the House amendments before it goes to Gov. Kay Ivey's desk for a signature.

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