AUSTIN, TX — House Bill 449 was signed into law this month, which will give colleges and universities the ability to see if a new student has any disciplinary action against them. The new notation system is part of the latest call for universities and legislature to protect students.
The bill, originally Bill 3142, was revived by it’s original sponsor Representative Chris Turner, after it failed to make it past the Texas House Committee on Higher Education in March 2017.
This April, it was authored by Representatives Turner, Victoria Neave and Sarah Davis, and the revised bill passed through the House.
Senator Kirk Watson picked up the bill after it passed through the House, moving it through to the governor’s desk for a signature.
Watson said, "HB 449 provides our public and private institutions of higher education with a common sense tool to ensure they don't unknowingly admit a student with a history of serious misconduct…. Our institutions of higher education have a duty to hold that student accountable and keep the rest of our students safe from further violence."
For some, this bill is seen as unfair. Criminal defense attorney Seth Sutton expresses his disagreement with basing a student’s future off a school investigation, rather than a constitutionally-based judgement.
Sutton said, “The number one priority of the criminal justice system is to investigate these things … to bring people to justice – when people need to be brought to justice and to decide the voracity of accusations. That's the number one priority of the system. That's why it's in place. The number one priority of the university setting is to educate.”
The disciplinary notation on the student's record may be removed by the institution if the student makes a request and the student is eligible to re-enroll - or good cause exists to remove it.
The law goes into effect September 1.