Classroom in Vail Mountain School. Vail Mountain School incorporates the Synexis Blade microbial reduction system in Vail, Colorado, on Wednesday, July 29,2020. Photo Steve Peterson

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By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado school districts would have to reduce suspensions and set higher standards for school resource officers under a state bill introduced Friday that takes aim at what’s called the school-to-prison pipeline.

The bill also bans the use of handcuffs on elementary school students.

Children of color and those with disabilities are more likely to face heavy discipline that puts them in contact with the criminal justice system and derails their education, and the bill’s sponsors said they want to stop the “criminalization of youth.”

“Black, brown, queer and disabled kids are disproportionately impacted by harsh discipline policies, and we have to change it,” said state Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat and sponsor of the bill. Herod, who also spearheaded last year’s landmark police reform bill, chairs the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus of Colorado. Its members have signed on as sponsors of the bill.

Senate Bill 182 seeks to minimize student run-ins with police, boost district reporting of discipline practices and create positive, alternative ways to address student behavior.

The bill notes more than 4,000 Colorado students were ticketed or arrested for a nonviolent misdemeanor at schools in the 2017-18 school year.