Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 1172, sponsored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, to provide better protection to special needs students at nonpublic schools by expanding local and state oversight on these campuses.
The bill was written in collaboration with Tony Thurmond, superintendent of public instruction, and is a response to the death of 13-year-old Max Benson, an autistic student who died after being physically restrained at his private El Dorado Hills high school in November 2018.
AB 1172 received unanimous support in both houses of the legislature.
“I want to thank the governor for signing AB 1172, legislation that will ensure the safety of students at specialized nonpublic schools,” Frazier said. “The most vulnerable students in our state deserve a safe place to learn. I am also grateful to Superintendent Tony Thurmond for his partnership on this issue. Our exceptional students benefit from expanded educational opportunities, and I look forward to collaborating with the superintendent on this subject in the future.”
“Thank you, Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Frazier, for your leadership in passing and signing AB 1172, which adds additional safeguards to enhance the safety of students attending nonpublic schools and nonpublic agencies,” said Thurmond. “We must be proactive in adopting and implementing policies that make our schools safer for all students.”
Nonpublic schools are private, nonsectarian schools that contract with local educational agencies (LEA) to serve special and exceptional needs students. AB 1172 was crafted after the California Department of Education (CDE) completed an investigation into the student’s death. The bill would:
• Require Special Education Local Plan Areas and LEAs to conduct on-site monitoring visits to nonpublic schools and nonpublic agencies and report the findings to CDE.
• Require nonpublic schools and nonpublic agencies to report incidents involving law enforcement to the LEA and CDE.
• Authorize the CDE to immediately suspend or revoke the certification of a nonpublic school or nonpublic agency if the CDE finds that the health or safety of a student has been compromised or is in danger of being compromised.
• Require nonpublic schools to have trained and qualified behavioral staff on site when serving students with significant behavioral needs or who are on behavior intervention plans.
• Require administrators at nonpublic schools to meet specific competency requirements or be in the process of achieving these requirements.