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Kentucky governor signs student discipline bill into law

March 23, 2023 GMT
FILE - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivers his State of the Commonwealth speech in front of a joint session of the legislature from the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Jan. 4, 2023, in Frankfort, Ky. A bill aimed at defusing classroom disruptions was signed into law Thursday, March 23, by Beshear, who said it would allow school administrators to intervene before situations escalate. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
FILE - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivers his State of the Commonwealth speech in front of a joint session of the legislature from the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Jan. 4, 2023, in Frankfort, Ky. A bill aimed at defusing classroom disruptions was signed into law Thursday, March 23, by Beshear, who said it would allow school administrators to intervene before situations escalate. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill aimed at defusing classroom disruptions was signed into law Thursday by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who said it would allow school administrators to intervene before situations escalate.

The Democratic governor told reporters that the bill seeks to ensure that students posing “a significant and serious potential for harm to a school aren’t immediately back in that school.”

“In the end, I think it’s one bill that really comes down to school safety, at a time when we’ve seen some really scary incidents across the country,” Beshear said. “This is one that I believe, if carried out appropriately, can hopefully intervene before some of those things happen.”

The bill focuses on how school administrators can respond to classroom disruptions.

Under the bill, a student removed from the same classroom three times within 30 days may be suspended from school for being “chronically disruptive.” Principals could require a review of classroom issues with the teacher and the student’s parents to determine a “course of action” regarding the youngster’s continued placement in the classroom.

The bill would allow principals to permanently remove a student from a classroom for the remainder of the school year if their presence would “chronically disrupt the education process for other students.”

Such students could be assigned to another classroom or an alternative program.

Another provision would result in a student’s expulsion for at least 12 months if school district officials determine, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the student made threats posing a danger to students, faculty or staff. Students could be placed in an alternative program, instead of being expelled.

The bill won overwhelming support in the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

During the House debate, Republican Rep. Timmy Truett said the disciplinary steps aren’t intended to increase student suspensions or expulsions. But action is needed because teachers, staff and students deserve a learning environment free from disruptive behavior, said Truett, the bill’s lead sponsor.

“This bill will make public education better,” Truett said during the debate.

Beshear signed several other bills Thursday, including:

—House Bill 180, which requires health insurers to cover “biomarker tests” that can help determine the best cancer treatment plans for patients. The bipartisan measure has been hailed as an important step in a state long plagued by high rates of cancers.

“This allows us to get targeted, precision treatment to patients at the right time,” said Republican Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser, the bill’s lead sponsor. “This will save money. This will save lives.”

The tests screen patients for genes, proteins and other substances, giving doctors information about a patient’s condition and how the patient will react to certain medications based on their genetic makeup. Obtaining genetic information allows for targeted treatment.

—House Bill 544, which calls for state regulation of hemp-derived delta-8 THC products.

The bill directs Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate delta-8 products. The measure sets guidelines for those regulations — including banning the sale of delta-8 products to anyone younger than 21. Those guidelines also call for keeping the products behind retail counters and requiring that the ingredients be clearly shown on product labels. Hemp is the low-THC version of the cannabis plant. THC is the cannabis compound that gives marijuana its high.

“This is a market that we can just no longer let go unchecked and unregulated,” said Republican Rep. Rebecca Raymer, the bill’s lead sponsor.