January 31, 2022
The 2022 Maryland legislative session is in full swing! In the coming weeks, we’ll spotlight a few of the bills we’re working on to promote economic justice and race equity. This month, we invite you to check out legislative priorities from our Education Stability and Human Right to Housing Projects.
Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to take action!
The PJC’s Education Stability Project advocates for systemic strategies to reduce schools’ reliance on exclusionary discipline and promote the use of alternatives to school pushout. In this year’s session of the General Assembly, we are advocating to reform the state’s “reportable offense” law and decriminalize disruption in the classroom.
School districts in Maryland currently have broad discretion to remove a student from school, with minimal due process, if the student has been arrested for or charged with any one of a wide range of criminal offenses (called a “reportable offense”). Unfortunately, school districts frequently violate the minimal requirements of the reportable offense law, capitalize on loopholes in the law to remove students for long periods of time for offenses that had no connection to or impact on the school community, and use the reportable offense process as a workaround to more protective student discipline regulations. We are advocating to reform the law to:
Sponsors: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary and Delegate David Moon
A section of the Maryland Education Code currently allows students to be charged with a misdemeanor crime if they “willfully disturb or otherwise willfully prevent the orderly conduct of the activities, administration, or classes of any institution of elementary, secondary, or higher education” or “threaten” students or staff. Law enforcement and schools have used this statute to arrest children engaging in horseplay and other minor, developmentally-anticipated behaviors. We are advocating to amend the law to no longer apply to students, so that kids are not criminalized for being kids.
Sponsors: Delegate Sheila Ruth and Senator Mary Washington
The PJC’s Education Stability team includes attorneys Monisha Cherayil and Renuka Rege and paralegal Fredson Desravines.
The PJC’s Human Right to Housing Project advocates, as a member of the Renters United Maryland (RUM) coalition, for a three-part housing justice plan to respond to evictions with urgency and build back with vision. Each of the legislative priorities will help struggling families, prevent evictions, and protect public health. Join us in taking action on February 8 at 7:00 pm for Protect Our Homes Day, RUM’s annual lobby night!
The PJC’s Human Right to Housing team includes attorneys Matt Hill, Charisse Lue, Russell (Ronnie) Reno, Jr., Zafar Shah, and Albert Turner and paralegals Gabriela Dickson La Rotta, Patrick O’Toole, and Carolina Paul.