Right vote for student justice issue

To the editor:

On Feb. 5, a bill to decriminalize disorderly conduct in schools passed the Virginia Senate. SB 3, which was sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, will prevent students from being put in the criminal justice system unnecessarily. I am proud to report that our state senator, Bill Stanley, voted for this bill.

For too long, Virginia has treated disruptive students as criminals. And it’s not applied equally across the board. The law specifically targets black children. According to a report from the Legal Aid Justice Center, 62% of school-based disorderly conduct complaints were filed against black students over the last three years, even though they only make up 22% of the overall student population. It’s time to put this ugly law behind us.

While I am grateful to Sen. Stanley for standing on the right side of criminal justice reform, I am disappointed that our area’s delegates—Les Adams, Danny Marshall, and Charles Poindexter—voted against the same bill in the House of Delegates, HB 256. Thankfully, their votes didn’t stop it from passing.

I’ll keep working to make sure all children get a fair shot. I hope you’ll join me and Virginia Organizing in this work.

TAMMY HOWARD

Martinsville

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