- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make elementary school students subject to out-of-school suspensions for assaulting teachers and other school employees.

Republican state Sen. Ron Sharp recently filed the bill, which would expand the list of students who can be suspended for violent acts to include students in grades three through five.

“These third-graders today are not the third-graders of yesteryear,” Sharp said Monday. “They’re big and strong, and they are attacking teachers and other students. It’s a problem today in our public schools.”

The Professional Oklahoma Educators organization requested the expansion, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/2jeKXBc ) reported. Executive director Ginger Tinney said some of the group’s members have been assaulted by students.

“We’ve had our members punched, spit on, bitten and slapped repeatedly,” Tinney said. “Some have been pregnant. Private schools and charter schools can kick these students out of school; public schools can’t do that.”

According to the 2016-2017 Student Code of Conduct for the Oklahoma City Public Schools, currently only students in grades six through 12 who attempt to or successfully cause physical bodily injury to a school employee or volunteer can be subjected to out-of-school suspensions.

Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers Ed Allen said there are hundreds of violent students in the district, and that ideally there would be services and opportunities to help students continue their education.

“Is what (Sharp) offering perfect? No,” Allen said. “But I don’t see the Legislature providing the money for placement services that they so drastically need.”

District officials could not be reached for comment. The bill will be considered when the Legislature begins its session in February.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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