Schools Take on Discipline Mandate to Reduce Suspensions, Expulsions

Chicago Tribune

The Waukegan School District’s discipline review committee is facing a daunting task in adjusting school policies that outline behavior infractions and consequences for students. A new law taking effect in the fall has put in place new regulations aimed at reducing the usage of school discipline that removes students from the classroom.Eric Christianson, the director of student support services, says that the committee will be focusing on formulating a policy that will reduce the number of suspensions by trimming the number of days and providing training and professional development for teachers. Nick Kolesiak, the district’s discipline coordinator, and Christianson think the law will help the district shift from a punitive discipline approach to a more proactive and developmental approach towards improving student behavior.

The new law and formulation of new policies has not been without push back however. Superintendent of Gurnee School District John Hutton has been outspoken on the possible limits the new law can put on administrators in cases in which disciplinary crackdown is needed. Illinois State Senator Kimberly Lightford, who introduced the bill, retorted in a statement that the bill aims to create the suspensions and expulsions as a last resort for administrators. Under the new law suspensions and expulsions remain on the table for administrators; however, these measures can only be used in cases in which other disciplinary options have been exhausted to remedy student behavior and the student’s behavior would pose a threat or “substantially disrupt” school operations.  Districts must also give students opportunities to make up work they’ve missed due to suspensions and may not use fines or fees as disciplinary measures.

To read more about the new school discipline law and its effects on school discipline policy click here: Schools take on Discipline mandate to reduce suspensions, expulsions