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Lombardo pushes his safer schools bill over restorative justice

As he discussed a school safety bill at a valley high school Friday, Gov. Joe Lombardo was joined by a former Eldorado High School teacher who was assaulted by a student in April.

The governor spoke at Valley High School in support of Assembly Bill 330 — known as the Safer and Supportive Schools Act — that his office introduced March 17.

Lombardo’s remarks Friday were similar to rhetoric he used as he testified during a hearing before the Assembly Committee on Education the day before.

The former Eldorado teacher, identified as Sade, sat next to the governor. She and a handful of other educators who have been impacted by school violence didn’t speak during the news conference.

It was the first time the teacher has been publicly identified as the victim in the Eldorado assault. A governor’s office spokesperson said after the event that the former teacher asked for her last name not to be disclosed.

Lombardo thanked Sade for her strength and bravery in attending the news conference.

She wasn’t the first victim of school violence, “but we’re fighting to make her one of the last,” Lombardo said.

A 16-year-old student — Jonathan Martinez Garcia — was indicted in August on 10 felony counts in connection with the assault.

What would Lombardo’s bill do?

The bill from the governor’s office would repeal a requirement that was passed in 2019 that public schools create a restorative justice plan before removing a student from a classroom or school in some situations.

Restorative justice can include behavioral interventions and connect students with community resources.

School violence is an issue that’s top of mind for many Nevada families, teachers and students, Lombardo said.

“Over the last two years, we have seen countless instances of school violence across Nevada,” he said.

The prevalence of school violence is shocking, and serious reform and legislative action is needed, the governor said.

He said the Safer and Supportive Schools Act is supported by all 17 Nevada school district superintendents, as well as groups such as the Clark County Education Association.

During Thursday’s legislative hearing, a few committee members expressed concerns about language in the bill that says a principal could limit a teacher’s ability to remove a student from a classroom.

A number of groups, including the Nevada State Education Association, also voiced opposition to the bill.

Every student should be able to stay in school, but there should be zero tolerance for school violence, Lombardo said Friday.

For those who’ve been impacted by school violence, he said, it’s time to get involved in the legislative process and support the Assembly bill.

Following Lombardo’s remarks, Troy Martinez, a representative from Dads In Schools, spoke about his program, where volunteers spend time on school campuses to help with safety efforts.

The Clark County School District and other school districts across the state saw an uptick in violent instances after students returned to in-person classes following the COVID-19 pandemic.

State legislators are also considering other restorative justice-related bills this session.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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