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Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) Policies

2012 School Discipline Bill

Colorado's Landmark Legislation is to Eliminate "Zero Tolerance"


SB11-133 created an interim legislative committee to study school discipline and referrals to law enforcement. Its purpose was to address concerns that there may be:

  1. overly harsh penalties in place to address minor school behavior-related incidents,
  2. too many school-based incidents excessively referred to law enforcement and therefore ending up being processed in juvenile justice system, and
  3. too many ethnic minorities being disproportionately disciplined and therefore contributing to an over representation of minority youth entering the juvenile justice system.

The committee met late-July through early-October, 2011. Testimony, in part, addressed the negative aspects of "zero tolerance" discipline policies, use of police discretion, and alternatives to managing school discipline. The committee determined that:

  1. local school officials need more discretion to manage and respond appropriately to student misconduct,
  2. Colorado is not providing standardized training for law enforcement officers who handle cases in schools, and
  3. Colorado does not provide any standardized data collection system for analyzing school-related criminal offenses or their connection to the justice system.

The interim committee's bill moved through the 2012 legislative session as SB12-046 until the last day of the session when it was passed as an amendment to HB12-1345, the School Finance Act.

The most significant results of the bill are:

  1. the elimination of mandatory expulsions for drugs, weapons, assaults, and robbery,
  2. grounds for suspension and expulsions changed from "shall" be grounds to "may" be grounds,
  3. addition of factors to consider in determining disciplinary actions,
  4. promotion of alternatives to discipline to decrease out-of-school suspensions and expulsions,
  5. required training for law enforcement officers, and
  6. reporting requirements regarding law enforcement officer and district attorney actions for school-based incidents.


Program Contact

Amy Werpy
Phone: 720-470-7558