Bill would give teachers more disciplinary authority

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- One state lawmaker wants to give teachers the authority to suspend their students without administrators' consent.

The bill, HB2011, was just introduced but is already sparking controversy among parents and educators.

Republican State Rep. John Fillmore of Pinal County is the bill's primary sponsor. He says he proposed the policy after talking to teachers who said administrators often failed to adequately discipline students who repeatedly misbehave.

"What this bill does is it enables the teacher to be the final authority in a suspension -- -not an expulsion or anything in that nature -- but a one- to three-day suspension," Fillmore expalined. "So it forces administration now to do this job."

Fillmore says the bill would give teachers more power in the classroom, but many teachers say they are not interested in having absolute disciplinary approval.

"I became a teacher to teach, I didn't become a teacher to be an administrator," said Holly Thorne, who teaches middle school in the West Valley.

The Arizona Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, opposes the bill, according to spokesman Doug Kilgore.

Kilgore says the AEA believes giving teachers the authority to impose suspension is unnecessary and would strip students of rights.

Fillmore believes once he explains the bill to fellow legislators he will be able to garner more support.