Legislature Overrides Bryan's Veto on Student Discipline Bill

Senate unites to pass bill limiting suspensions and expulsions for young students

  • Nelcia Charlemagne
  • November 15, 2023

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory invites her colleagues to override a veto from Governor Albert Bryan Jr. By. V.I. LEGISLATURE

A decision by Governor Albert Bryan to veto Bill 35-0082 was overridden during the 35th Legislature's regular session on Tuesday.

The bill seeks to limit suspensions and expulsions of students from pre-kindergarten to third grade. It also adds a requirement for school-based education personnel to complete training focused on mitigating behavioral issues.

When the draft legislation reached Government House, Mr. Bryan struck it down, saying that if approved, the bill “would behoove the Legislature to collaborate with the Department of Education, the Board of Education, and union representatives to evaluate the feasibility and wisdom of mandating an additional course of study for roughly 1000 employees of the Department.” 

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, sponsor of the measure, disagreed. At the time of the veto, she suggested that the legislation would align the Virgin Islands with 22 other states that currently have similar provisions on their books. She argued that the measure merely clarified existing requirements rather than imposed new ones, and said that the bill would ensure training for educators without an associated financial burden.

On Tuesday, she doubled down on her disapproval of the governor's veto, moving that the legislature consider an override. The request was popular, seconded by senators Marvin Blyden, Carla Joseph, Ray Fonseca, Milton Potter, and Alma Francis-Heyliger. 

The vote to consider the override received an overwhelming 14 favorable votes, with Senator Marise James absent from the day's proceedings. The actual vote on the override also earned the favor of each present lawmaker. With Senator Frett-Gregory’s motion passing in quick time, Senate President Novelle Francis assured senators that “the governor will be notified."

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