LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — There have been several examples this week of teen violence in the Las Vegas valley, from a 17-year-old murdered on Halloween night to a student hospitalized after a brutal beating.
A handful of Nevada lawmakers were at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Saturday for an education symposium where the issue of school safety was discussed.
Assemblywoman Angie Taylor, D-Washoe County, led a workshop on the topic. She helped shepherd through Assembly Bill 285 this recent legislative session, a bipartisan bill that tackled the issue of student discipline at Nevada schools.
“We need to take care of the behavior issue. Find out why. What does that student need? How can we help, is it a family issue? Mental health, whatever. And at the same time, balance that with, how do you make sure the schools are safe,” Taylor said.
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo signed both AB 285 and AB 330 in June, bills that sought to empower teachers amid an increase in student violence.
“The culture in these schools has gotten out of hand in terms of student behavior and what we have seen is an escalation of violence,” John Vellerdita, the executive director of the Clark County Education Association, told lawmakers on March 23.
Despite both bills passing, Clark County schools have seen several violent incidents nearly halfway into the current school year.
On Wednesday, A Rancho High School teen was beaten by what police say were 15 students near campus. He remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
According to CCSD data, Clark County school police have confiscated 20 guns and 52 knives so far this year.
“How do we deal with it when the students have the behavior issue? Support that student,” Taylor said. “If they need to be removed, because in some cases they do, how do we help that student get the support that they need? And how do we get them back in the education? How do we restore them with accountability.”
Assemblywoman Taylor said making schools safer also improves attendance.
“Hopefully when environments are supportive. When environments are safe. When environments are encouraging students and help to lift them up, that can help counteract some of the absenteeism,” Taylor said.
The training and support pieces of AB 285 have yet to be implemented in school districts, according to Taylor.
Both AB 285 and AB 330 helped change a previous restorative justice law that passed in 2019, which became unpopular among teachers who said it made it harder to expel or suspend students who committed violent acts.