Freeport, Illinois – On May 20 of last year a bill passed by the Illinois House of Representatives called SB 100 required sweeping changes in the use of punitive school discipline practices across the state.
Led by VOYCE (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education), a group of mostly high school students from Chicago, the group created the bill in 2012 to address the impact of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions on their peers and schools.
Dalia Mena, an 18 year old member of VOYCE from Steinmentz High School stated that, “For too long, harsh school discipline practices have contributed to the under-education and over-criminalization of young people, and especially youth of color,” said Dalia . “Illinois legislators have demonstrated that by listening to students, we can create schools where all students are valued and supported in their learning. SB 100 makes Illinois go from one of the worst states when it comes to overusing exclusionary discipline, to being a national leader with a model for other states to follow”.
According to VOYCE’s website, SB 100 prioritizes the creation of safe and orderly schools while seeking to address excessive use of the most severe forms of discipline. Under the legislation students can only be suspended, expelled or referred to an alternative school if all other “appropriate and available” alternatives are exhausted. In other words, suspensions and expulsions become the last resort, rather than the first response.
In an effort to find an alternative to suspension and to be in compliance with SB 100, the Freeport School Board began exploring an alternative to out-of-school suspensions and keeping students in school.
Schools have experienced limited success in altering students’ inappropriate behaviors through the use of out-of-school suspensions. As part of the board’s Middle School Alternative to Suspension Proposal prepared by Director of Human Resources Chris Shockey, it is stated “Contrary to our expectations, punishing students by excluding them from school does not deter future misbehavior“. The proposal also states, “For example, students suspended in the middle schools are more likely to be suspended again, suggesting an increase in misbehavior”, adding that “2,464 students” have missed instructional days due to suspension.
On Tuesday July 19, 2016 the board approved, as presented, the Alternative to Suspension proposal as an alternative to out-of-school suspensions. To view the entire Middle School Alternative to Suspension Proposal click here.
Below are some excerpts. What are your thoughts?
To view the entire Middle School Alternative to Suspension Proposal click here.