Op-Ed: California makes it too hard for schools to shield kids from extreme heat
The Los Angeles Unified School District has one of the worst scores in the nation on how it protects and teaches students through the Safe & Drug-Free Campus Act and the state Office of the Children’s Services.
As a result, one out of every 25 students in the classroom has been expelled or suspended since 2013-14, and 1,722 students have been arrested on school grounds.
On that last and most important issue, it is difficult to fault the California education system.
Despite all that, it is impossible to protect children from the risks of heat stroke, not to mention the risks of dehydration, heat exposure and heat exhaustion brought on by lack of proper clothing and protection.
And while the Los Angeles Unified School District has a record of doing the right thing, it is impossible to help it do more:
The district is responsible for educating about 2.6 million K-12 students. To accomplish that, it must do what it can to help students who are ill, especially those who are children and in need of special services.
The district must also help students who have been expelled or suspended through a full and fair process to have a say in their future.
The process the district must follow is that of due process.
The process is supposed to be conducted by a neutral third party or by a school staff member. The district can’t force that process on schools in a way that favors either side.
The school’s disciplinary committee, the one that takes disciplinary action against students, must have adequate time for hearings that include testimony from students and an opportunity for a neutral third party to review the evidence and make a recommendation to the committee.
The district can’t make one student’s discipline more or less likely because it could have an impact on one group of students, one day, or one child.
Allowing such schools to make a decision without providing an opportunity for kids to have their say in the process would be cruel and unusual punishment.
The district must also have a system of appeals for student discipline.
The decision to expel or suspend students must be based on facts and not on bias or emotion. The system should include a chance for students to have their day in court and to have their evidence heard.