Calif. Senate Bill to Allow School Expulsions for ‘Sexting’

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California Senate yesterday unanimously passed a bill that adds sexting to a list of infractions that can get a public school student expelled. The bill, SB919, was introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) March 24 and will now go to the Assembly.

The language of the bill defines sexting as “the sending or receiving of sexually explicit pictures or video images by means of an electronic act.” Its enforcement is tied to the Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act of 1985, which established the School/Law Enforcement Partnership, which then created a “statewide school safety cadre for the purpose of facilitating interagency coordination and collaboration to reduce school violence and crime, truancy rates, bullying, teen relationship violence, and discrimination and harassment.”

The bill amends several sections of the Education Code related to school safety, including Section 48900, which reads, in part:

“A pupil shall not be suspended or expelled for any of the acts enumerated in this section, unless that act is related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district or principal or occurring within any other school district. A pupil may be suspended or expelled for acts that are enumerated in this section and related to school activity or attendance that occur at any time, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

   (1) While on school grounds.

   (2) While going to or coming from school.

   (3) During the lunch period whether on or off the campus.

   (4) During, or while going to or coming from, a school sponsored activity.”

However, subsection (s) of 48900 also expands upon the definition of sexting by adding that it must be “directed specifically toward a pupil or school personnel.”

According to the Associated Press, “Lieu says it's a growing problem in California schools. He cited a study saying one in five teens reported sending or posting nude or semi-nude pictures and videos of themselves.

Despite his sponsorship of the bill and concern about the sexing of texting by California teens, Lieu’s website contains no official reference to his bill or its passage by the Senate. A press release was issued today about the Senate’s passage of Lieu’s bill to protect grieving military families from disruptive, hurtful protests, but nothing about sexting other than a link to the AP article.