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Preschool expulsion: the surprising problem this bill aims to prevent

September 26, 2017
Priska Neely
89.3 KPCC

Blanca Rubio often talks to her children about what she has going on at work. Since she’s a legislator, a member of the California Assembly representing the 48th district, this means talking to her 9- and 10-year-old about the laws she’s writing.

“I told them that one of the bills I was working on was a bill to stop 3- and 4-years-olds from being expelled,” said Rubio, “And the first reaction was like, ‘Mom! They’re three and four! Why would anyone expel 3- and 4-year-olds? They don’t know any better.’ ”

But in California and around the country, preschoolers are actually expelled at a rate more than three times higher than their peers in K-12 grades.

At least 575 preschoolers in the state were suspended and 18 expelled, in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the latest data available from Department of Education. Of those students, the majority were Latino and African American.

Nationally, more than 6,700 3- and 4-year-olds were suspended from public preschool in 2013-2014 school year.