House Bill 674: Keeping Students on Campus

by Heather Castillo

House Bill 674 (“HB 674”) has two parts:

(1) it adds Texas Education Code (“TEC”) § 37.005(c), which prohibits out-of-school suspension (“OSS”) for students below 3rd grade, with some exceptions; and

(2)  it adds TEC § 37.0013, POSITIVE BEHAVIOR PROGRAM, which authorizes districts to create new disciplinary alternatives for students below 3rd grade who engage in conduct eligible for OSS under the district’s Student Code of Conduct (“SCOC”).

No OSS for students below 3rd grade, unless…

HB 674 applies beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. It prohibits districts from placing students below 3rd grade in OSS, unless the student, while on school property or attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity, engages in conduct that contains the elements of:

  • a weapons offense under Texas Penal Code § 46.02 (Unlawful Carrying Weapons) or 46.05 (Prohibited Weapons)
  • assault
  • sexual assault
  • aggravated assault
  • aggravated sexual assault
  • selling, giving, or delivering to another person or possessing, using, or being under the influence of marijuana, a controlled substance, a dangerous drug, or an alcoholic beverage

Positive Behavior Programs

HB 674 also provides districts with the authority to create Positive Behavior Programs and train staff regarding disciplinary alternatives for students below 3rd grade. In consultation with a district’s campus behavior coordinators and Regional Education Service Center representatives, a district may now create disciplinary alternatives for students below 3rd grade who violate the SCOC and, in accordance with the new TEC § 37.005(c) discussed above, cannot be placed in OSS. Such programs must:

(1)  be age-appropriate and research-based;

(2)  provide models for positive behavior;

(3)  promote a positive school environment;

(4)  provide alternative disciplinary courses of action that do not rely on the use of in-school suspension, OSS, or placement in a DAEP to manage student behavior; and

(5)  provide behavior management strategies, including:

(A)  positive behavioral intervention and support;

(B)  trauma-informed practices;

(C)  social and emotional learning;

(D)  a referral for services, as necessary; and

(E)  restorative practices.

If you or your staff have questions about this new law, or would like training related to any of these issues, the attorneys at Leasor Crass stand ready to assist.