COLUMBUS - State Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) recently delivered keynote remarks at the annual conference for the Ohio Confederation of Teacher Organizations, addressing the escalating crisis caused by burdensome student discipline mandates placed on teachers and administrators.

Senator Lehner used the opportunity to highlight the strong correlation between poverty and student disciplinary issues, noting that existing mandates on student discipline only serve to worsen cycles of poverty by removing students from the classroom. She also pointed out the increasingly important role educators play as a support system for children dealing with family and behavioral issues. 

"Educators in this state are under an unbelievable amount of pressure, much of which has nothing to do with their primary role in preparing our next generation of Ohioans for success in the 21st Century economy," said Lehner. "Mandates on student discipline serve to compound these burdens, resulting in less prepared students and an onslaught of problems for schools, families and communities."

Problems enhanced under Ohio's exclusionary discipline policies have sparked state and national conversations on evidence-based strategies for ensuring student achievement. 

Senator Lehner has expressed a growing desire among her legislative colleagues for more serious policy discussions to deal with cycles of poverty through alternative student intervention for non-violent offenses. She plans to soon introduce legislation, called the SAFE Act, which would empower schools to implement behavioral programs aimed at keeping students in the classroom. 

"Clearly, teachers and administrators must use all effective means at their disposal to maintain school safety, respond to immediate threats, and provide the most effective learning environments practicable," added Lehner. "For this reason, violent behaviors would still be eligible for a suspension or expulsion under this legislation. "
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