HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Keeping more youngsters in school – that’s the goal of a new bill in the state house of representatives. A Philadelphia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban out-of-school suspensions of students in certain circumstances. As Eyewitness News Education Reporter Crystal Cranmore tells us, one local school district is already on board.

At the Hazleton Area School District, there is  zero tolerance for offenses like insubordination, truancy, and fighting – all offenses that can lead to suspension..
    But with three percent of elementary school students suspended so far this year, the school board wants to revamp it’s policies to keep more students *in* the classroom.
” Although it is a form of discipline, its not the end all be all. In other words, it doesn’t solve all problems.”Said Dr. Craig Butler, Superintendent of Schools in Hazleton.

    School leaders are looking at alternatives to suspension, like community service.

This would *not* apply to students who bring weapons to school or engage in sexual conduct, but those who commit what the school considers to be minor infractions. .

“For example a student who is habitually truant. They are already out of school. What sense does it make to put them out of school even more” added Dr.Butler.

    There is also a push at the state level to keep more students in class.
    Representative Jordan Harris recently introduced a bill that would *ban* the suspension of children in kindergarten through fifth grade for things like not wearing your uniform, cell phone use or talking back to a teacher.
“The reality that we have seen is that the more young person is out of school, the more likely they are to drop out of school and as they get older when they drop out, they drop into some of our correctional institutions.” Representative Harris, a Democrat from Philadelphia told Eyewitness News

    There is bipartisan support for the bill.
“There is sometimes an underlying issue where school is really a safe haven for that child.” said Republican Representative Tara Toohil

A handful of parents picking up their kids from daycare say they support the bill. They say out of school suspensions do not fix bad behavior especially for kids younger than 10 years old.
    Instead of suspension Representative Harris wants schools to incorporate restorative justice programs – keeping students on a positive path, while getting the education they need.

There is currently no Senate version of the House School Suspension Bill