Upholding Teachers’ Authority to Remove Disruptive Students

Sen. Mario Gallegos, Democrat of Houston, has filed two bills in the Texas Senate to help teachers who exercise their authority under the Safe Schools Act to remove disruptive or violent students from their classrooms. SB 345 would require principals or other administrators who oversee student discipline to receive training that educates them on the discretionary authority of a teacher to remove a disruptive student under state law. Too many administrators behave as if they are unaware of the distinction between a disciplinary referral to the principal’s office, which leaves the administrator with wide latitude to respond,and a formal removal by the teacher under Section 37.002(b) of the Texas Education Code, which limits the administrator’s ability to return a student to the teacher’s class. The training required under this bill would help to remove this significant impediment to proper enforcement of the Safe Schools Act.

SB 678 by Sen. Gallegos addresses another obstacle to proper use of this important legal authority by teachers. This bill would require each school district’s board of trustees to adopt a policy that prohibits the district from taking adverse personnel action against a teacher in retaliation for the teacher’s removal of a student, so long as the removal is in accordance with the Safe Schools Act. Putting this anti-retaliation provision in every district’s local policy would put administrators on notice that teachers’ removal authority must be respected, and it would set the stage for sanctions against any retaliatory action.