Senate Bill 169 to Protect Georgia’s Students

A Call for Reform: Support Senate Bill 169 to Protect Georgia's Students

In the landscape of education, the disciplinary actions taken by schools can have profound and lasting impacts on students’ lives. In Georgia, the process surrounding school suspensions and expulsions—critical aspects of this disciplinary landscape—is in dire need of reform. Each year, over 118,000 Georgia students face suspension or expulsion, a staggering figure that reveals the extensive reach of disciplinary measures within our schools. This blog post aims to shed light on the current issues with Georgia’s disciplinary proceedings, the proposed solutions under Senate Bill 169 (SB169), and the compelling data underscoring the urgent need for change.

The Current Challenge

Under existing Georgia law, when a school proposes to suspend a student for more than 10 days, a disciplinary hearing, or tribunal, must be scheduled within 10 days of the alleged offense. However, in practice, these hearings are often delayed well beyond the 10-day window, leaving students in a state of limbo—out of school but not yet found to have violated any rules. During this waiting period, students do not receive any instructional materials, as state law does not mandate it. The consequence is a significant learning loss, even before a decision is made regarding their innocence or the nature of the alleged offense. Upon their return, the burden often falls on teachers to help these students catch up, diverting valuable resources and time from the rest of the class.

The Solution Offered by SB169

SB169 seeks to address these issues by amending O.C.G.A. 20-2-754 of the Public School Disciplinary Tribunal Act. The bill proposes key reforms to ensure timely disciplinary hearings, limit the rescheduling of such hearings, and mandate the provision of course materials to students awaiting the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings. These changes aim to increase due process, enhance the efficiency of discipline proceedings, prevent learning loss, and alleviate the pressure on teachers who are tasked with helping returning students catch up.

 The Data Speaks Volumes

  • Learning Loss: Students served by Georgia Appleseed’s School Justice initiative experienced an average wait of 18 days for their disciplinary hearings, with some waiting as long as 55 days. During this period, almost none of these students received instructional materials, leading to significant educational setbacks.
  • Increased Drop-Out Rates: A study by the Georgia Department of Education highlights the dire consequences of missed instructional time, showing that students who miss 11-14 days of school in a year see their odds of graduating decrease by over 25%.
  • Economic Costs: The broader implications of school suspensions extend to the economy at large, costing more than $35 billion in economic losses nationwide. A mere 1% reduction in the suspension rate could yield over $2.2 billion in social benefits.
  • Neighboring Models: The need for reform is further emphasized by practices in neighboring states, where timely disciplinary proceedings and the provision of instructional materials during suspensions are already the norm. States like North and South Carolina have set examples by requiring disciplinary hearings to occur within days of an incident and ensuring students can continue their education even while suspended.


The proposed changes under SB169 represent a crucial step toward safeguarding the educational futures of Georgia’s students. By aligning disciplinary procedures with principles of fairness and efficiency, we can mitigate the negative impacts of suspensions and expulsions. The data clearly shows the detrimental effects of the current system on students’ academic progress, graduation rates, and, by extension, their future prospects. It is time for Georgia to follow the lead of its neighbors, embracing reforms that uphold the rights and dignity of students while fostering a more supportive and effective educational environment.

Georgia Appleseed’s support for SB169 underscores our commitment to justice and equity within the educational system. We urge lawmakers, educators, parents, and all stakeholders to rally behind this bill, ensuring that our schools remain places of growth and opportunity for every student, irrespective of the challenges they may face. Together, we can build a foundation for success that benefits not only our children but our society at large.