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Alabama House Committee Takes Up Due Process Bill in Final Days of Legislative Session

Mother Suing Pike County Schools For Violating Son’s Due Process Rights Will Testify

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Alabama House Education Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 203, a bill that would offer due process protections within state law for students facing exclusionary discipline such as suspension or expulsion. Shatarra Pelton, a mother who is suing Pike County Schools for violating her son’s due process rights during his senior year of high school, will testify at the hearing.

The following statement is by SPLC Action Fund Senior Supervising Attorney Mike Tafelski:

“With just a few days left in the 2021 Alabama legislative session to accomplish meaningful reforms for the state, we are pleading with the House Education Policy Committee to move swiftly in the coming days to pass this important piece of legislation on behalf of Alabama students.

“Alabama is the only state in the Southeast that does not affirm or respect students’ due process rights in practice or by state law. These protections are critical to ensuring that students are not unjustly denied access to an education that is a fundamental to their future success.

“The lawsuits filed in recent years by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Alabama students unjustly suspended or expelled from school underscores the impact of the state’s failure for years to protect students’ due process rights. It is imperative that the stories of families, like Mrs. Pelton’s, that have been devastated by this unlawful practice are told and we applaud the committee for holding today’s hearing to allow their voices to be heard.

“Without the due process protections included in this bill, Alabama students will continue to be forced out of school unnecessarily in violation of their rights. We urge the House Education Policy Committee to expedite passage of this crucial, common-sense students' rights bill and send it to the House for a full vote before the session ends. Our students cannot afford to go another year without these protections.”

The hearing will begin today at 1:30 p.m. CDT in Room 202 of the Alabama State House, located at 11 South Union Street in downtown Montgomery. It can also be viewed live at:  http://www.legislature.state.al.us/aliswww/audiovideo/HouseRoom617video.html.