A bill that would have allowed Nebraska teachers to physically restrain students is placed on hold.
The speaker of the legislature made the move Monday after lawmakers debated the Student Discipline Act. The measure would have allowed teachers to physically remove a student from the classroom if they act in a threatening way or if they are believed to be a safety threat.
In order to bring the debate back to the floor, State Senator Mike Groene has to show he has the support of 33 senators for his bill.
A busload of people in opposition to the bill showed up at the state capitol to watch lawmakers battle it out. The debate came down to a lot of back and forth between Senator Justin Wayne and Groene.
Wayne argued the bill extends too much power to too many untrained people. "If you're at OPS — and we have maintenance people and carpenters — they can intervene with physical intervention, without any training, and be immune from criminal prosecution or civil liability," he said.
But Groene called the bill necessary for everyone's safety. "A gun shows up in the hall, and the janitor might be the first to see it," he said. "A fight with a knife in the cafeteria — the cook is the first-responder. They need to be trained."
As the bill stands now, there is no training required for teachers or personnel, but Groene said he's willing to write training into it to help get the support of 33 senators he needs, for the bill to stay alive.
The bill was put to the floor last May, but stalled after it was deadlocked in committee.
The Nebraska State Education Association but opponents expressed concern such a law would result in force being used disproportionately against students of color or with disabilities.
"LB147 does nothing to address the systems of discrimination," says State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh. "It makes them worse."