DC teachers get a tax break, student suspensions limited under proposed bills

WASHINGTON — Public and charter schoolteachers in D.C. who use their own cash for classroom supplies would get a $500 tax credit under legislation being considered by the D.C. Council.

“It is no secret that District teachers make many personal and financial sacrifices for our students,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh, who introduced the bill Tuesday. “A $500 tax credit will help to alleviate the cost burden faced by our educators.”

According to Cheh, teachers spend hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket on supplies, despite getting a $200 gift card at the beginning of the year from D.C. Public Schools.

“Teachers often find that the $200 falls well short of their classroom needs,” she said.

Under the bill, teachers would be allowed to use the tax credit for expenses related to purchasing supplies, instructional materials, classroom equipment and expenses incurred by a teacher for professional development.

The council’s finance and revenue committee will take up the legislation.

A second school-related bill unveiled Tuesday focused on student discipline.

Councilmember David Grosso, who introduced the measure, said it would limit out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to the most serious of circumstances and would ban such suspensions for minor offenses in high school.

“Every student has a right to an education, which suspensions and expulsions potentially deprive them of,” said Grosso, who chairs the education committee. “Thousands of students are pushed out of school buildings each year as a result of excessive use of exclusionary discipline practices.”

Under the legislation, if exclusion became necessary, a child would have the right to an education while they are off premises, and there would need to be a plan in place for how to successfully bring the student back to class.

More than 7,000 D.C. students were suspended or expelled during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the city’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

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