Photo of the Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond. On the right is a green background with "Advocacy Alert" and the Arlington SEPTA and Fairfax SEPTA logos below.

UPDATE 2/15/2023: We are relieved to share that the Senate Public Education subcommittee just voted to pass by HB1461 indefinitely with a vote of 3 – 1.

Thank you to the organizations who signed the letter in opposition to this bill with the Northern VA SEPTAs, and to the additional organizations who spoke in opposition in person today. We appreciate your support for all of the students who would have been disproportionately negatively impacted by this bill.


February 08, 2023
Contact: Diane Cooper-Gould & Michelle Cades

Individuals or organizations wishing to join us in opposition, please see the Call to Action & Sample Email resources provided further down this page, after the letter that was sent to the Senate.

*Please note: Our Minds Matter and Fairfax County Council PTA (FCCPTA) have joined the list of partner organizations as of 2/8/23, bringing the total to 26 Virginia organizations.

For the written text of the press release above, please scroll to the bottom.

Opposition Letter Sent to Senate:

*Please note: Our Minds Matter and Fairfax County Council PTA (FCCPTA) have joined the list of partner organizations as of 2/8/23, bringing the total to 26 Virginia organizations.


For individuals or additional organizations who wish to join our opposition to HB 1461, we have prepared the following sample email along with the emails of the Senate Education & Health Committee. Please personalize this sample to your own experiences as necessary.

The committee will meet on Thursday, 2/9 beginning at 8am, and we expect this bill to be on their agenda at that time.


Dear Senator ____,
[If writer lives in the Senator’s district, start with: I am your constituent in #_ District.] I write to you today to share my very strong opposition to Virginia House Bill 1461 which would require the VA Board of Education to establish a uniform system of discipline for disruptive behavior. I oppose this bill due to the many results that will occur if it is enacted:

  • Disproportionate class removals for students with disabilities and for students of color, as well as the
    intersectionality of these two populations
  • Increased learning loss for these students as they are denied access to education
  • Increased school-to-prison pipeline numbers

This bill will mandate class removals for subjective interpretations of behavior without addressing the underlying reason for the behavior and, therefore, not addressing how to change the behavior. It will disproportionately affect students with disabilities, male students, and students of color. I strongly oppose this legislation.

[Insert a sentence here about your connection to this legislation, eg. I am the parent of a Black, 10-year-old boy who receives special education services to support his needs as an autistic child. When he gets frustrated, he sometimes cries or yells in class, which could lead to a classroom removal under this legislation.]

Thank you very much for representing my views in opposition to this bill.
Your Name
Your Address



February 08, 2023
Contact: Diane Cooper-Gould & Michelle Cades


The undersigned 25 Virginia organizations join together to STRONGLY OPPOSE Virginia House Bill 1461. HB1461 requires the state to establish a uniform system of discipline, mandating classroom removals for subjective interpretations of “disruptive” student behavior, without context, and without addressing the underlying reason for the behavior nor strategies for how to address the behavior.

We call on our elected officials to vote down this bill. It will harm students with disabilities, students of color, low-income students and male students – especially those who fall into more than one of these groups – as well as students who have experienced trauma. Multiple studies show that these students are already disproportionately subjected to discipline by schools. This bill will worsen the disparities. 

HB1461 removes decision-making from our local school divisions and teachers, with the state mandating procedures for removing and returning the student to the classroom. Education for students with disabilities must be individualized. Every student is unique in their strengths and needs, and every “disruptive” behavior has a unique cause. School staff should follow best practices to address challenging behaviors, not be forced to respond to every situation in an identical manner.

Additionally, under this legislation, students would be removed from class automatically for “violent” behavior. Students with disabilities have already been wrongly subjected to physical restraint and seclusion for so-called “violent” classroom behavior as mild as ripping up papers, shouting, and throwing a pencil or a toy. Extreme punishments have been inflicted upon students whose behavior is, in fact, not dangerous but rather a form of attempted communication, dysregulation, or a manifestation of their disability.

HB1461 will worsen inequities for students in marginalized groups, such as BIPOC students, in a state that already has one of the highest disproportionality rates in the country for referring students to law enforcement, without making our schools any safer. We oppose this bill and we call on our legislators to oppose it too.


Fairfax County Special Education PTA

Arlington Special Education PTA

Partner Organizations:

4 Public Education

Alliance Against Seclusion & Restraint

Arlington Education Association

Arlington Gender Identity Allies

Arlington Schools Hispanic Parents Association

Black Parents of Arlington

Communication First

Decoding Dyslexia of Virginia

disAbility Law Center of Virginia

Fairfax County Council PTA

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers 

Fairfax County NAACP

FCPS Pride

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington

Legal Aid Justice Center

Mental Health America of Virginia

National Association of Social Workers – Virginia

Our Minds Matter

Parents of Autistic Children 

Prince William County Special Education PTA 

Promise to Address Childhood Trauma

The ARC of Northern Virginia

Virginia Autism Project

Voices for Virginia’s Children

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