The bill, advanced by a South Dakota Senate committee, was propelled mainly by Republicans.
Republican state Sen. Erin Tobin defended the bill as essential for the protection of victims, saying current laws only suggest that law enforcement report a student’s crimes to their school.
“When it’s not consistently happening, students are placed right back in school, sometimes where the victim is present,” Tobin told Fox News. “That is a huge risk to the victim and the offender, and it’s just not a safe environment.”
Outside groups defended the bill as well, including the School Administrators of South Dakota, an organization that represents school administrators. Its executive director, Rob Monson, told the outlet that the bill would allow schools to intervene before further crimes were committed in many instances. He was referencing an incident in which a student was arrested at school over numerous crimes, including car theft, firearm possession, illegal drug possession, and assaulting his sister.
The bill faces stiff resistance from Democrats. They argue the bill will further criminalize at-risk youth.
Grant Flynn, a representative of the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, said, “It’s a solution looking for a problem and creates additional onus on law enforcement.”