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Lawmakers want to provide solutions for bad behavior in Indiana schools

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Jan 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-24 21:33:30-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers say that bad behavior in schools is a consistent issue.

The problem is so bad that parents like Jessenia Espino put her son in a virtual school. When he was attending a brick and mortar public school, he was a C, D and F student. She says it’s because of how distracting students acting out were.

"When volunteering in his classroom, I noticed it wasn't him that was the cause of him not getting work done,” Espino said. “It was kids around him misbehaving in class that were causing him to not focus on school work."

Once he switched to virtual school, Espino says she noticed a huge shift in his schoolwork.

She says her son would turn in blank homework and not finish tests due to not being able to pay attention. Now, that is not the case.

"Once I took him out of that environment and put him in an online public school, those distractions were taken away. Those instances where he had kids acting out around him were gone."

Espino isn't the only person who has seen the behavior of other students impact hers. That's why Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) has authored House Bill 1262.

"You can't touch them, you can't put your hands on them, and then you're negatively impacted if you suspend or expel too many of them,” Rep. Smith said.

Rep. Smith's bill would commission the Department of Education to study solutions to behavioral issues in schools.

Several organizations, including the Indiana State Teacher’s Association, says behavioral issues are an ongoing problem for educators.

"Our members have spoken loud and clear on discipline, and it is one of the most significant issues they hear about and deal with in the classroom,” John O’Neil, with the Indiana State Teachers Association, said. “It's one of the most common things we hear about from the association perspective from the field."

As for parents like Espino, she is glad this is something the state is considering.

"Everybody deserves an equal education. If one student can't tune out another student that's causing an outburst, that isn't getting the same opportunity," Espino said.

HB 1262 passed out of the house education committee with bi-partisan support. It will now head to the full house.

Rep. Smith says there will be several amendments to the bill. The way it reads now on the state website will change drastically.