Rauner signs bill to prevent preschool expulsion

CHICAGO -- Unruly students can face expulsion for their bad behavior.  But typically expulsion is thought of as a punishment for teens.

Schools today are expelling preschoolers as well and the problem is growing.  But a new law in Illinois will prevent the youngest kids from getting kicked out of class.

Governor Rauner signed the bill this morning.  Preschools that get state money can no longer kick kids out of school, if they don't follow very specific rules to do so.  With the bill, expulsion needs to be a last resort.

In Illinois, nearly three preschoolers are expelled for every 1,000 enrolled.  It's what's being called by some the pre-school to prison pipeline.

Kids who are kicked out of class are often already at-risk and being expelled makes them more likely to stay on the wrong path.

Researchers at Yale University have found many of the youngest kids being kicked out of class are disproportionately black and Hispanic.  The study found some teachers harbor an implicit bias against certain minority kids, especially black boys.

The legislation signed today by Gov. Rauner makes it harder for schools that get state funding to just kick kids out of class.  Schools will now have to take certain steps before expelling a preschooler and if the child needs to be transitioned to another school, teachers have to come up with a plan.

The new law was championed by Illinois's First Lady, Diana Rauner.  Supporters of the law say  all children deserve the opportunity to learn without being labeled.

“It enables us to take a position where we no longer label small children as bad. Bad kids. Throw them out. We’re not going to do that anymore. There are no bad 4-year-olds,” Cynthia Tate, Director of the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development said.

This new law applies to thousands of schools across the state.  By next summer, those schools will also be expected to keep track of how many preschoolers they expel and make that information available to the public.