The Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board’s Policy Committee Monday night discussed changing guidelines to address a recent increase suspensions, particularly among black students.

Joyce Bartz, assistant superintendent of special services, says the number of out-of-school suspension days was around 10 per hundred students in 2014.

After a change to the policy to make consequences for students less exclusionary, the number of suspensions decreased to less than five per hundred students in 2015.

During the same time period, suspensions among black students went from over 25 per hundred to around 10 per hundred.

A state law passed in 2015, representing an effort by the state to curtail the “school to prison pipeline,” prohibited zero-tolerance policies that require administrators to suspend or expel students for certain offenses unless required by law, such as for weapons or drugs.

Suspensions declined further after changes to district policies were implemented based on the state law.

However, though they have decreased, the proportion of suspensions among black students continues to be significantly higher than the proportion of the student body overall.

And since 2016, out-of-school suspensions among all students have started to tick upward.

Bartz outlined the administration’s next steps in revising the suspension policy and addressing equity issues that include developing a uniform Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports system, updating suspension notices and the student handbook and conducting information sessions with parents on the suspension policy.

In addition, the district will add resources such as a break room for students who need a break in the middle of the day, attended by a social worker or psychologist, as well as academic support rooms.

“We want to develop different kinds of interventions, in order to address something that happened, as opposed to something exclusionary,” said Bartz. “We’re thinking of restorative practices such as an apology or community service, that would help promote children’s positive feelings about themselves.”

The School Climate Team process is also expected to help address the issue. “The climate process allows us to look at data for each school and analyze it, looking for the root causes of racial disparity in the area of discipline.”

As they develop an action plan for each building, Bartz says, “Our goal is to foster a positive school climate, identify clear expectations and build staff capacity through equity training to ensure fairness.”

Related story

District 65 to discuss rules as suspension soar (2/24/18)

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  1. A surfeit of feel-good
    A surfeit of feel-good buzzwords! Why not just say the standards for proper behavior are being lowered once again and they will continue to be until no one is dismissed from school…for anything! Kind of like the new dress code. Limbo lower now. How low can you go?

  2. What is D202 and D65 doing to keep our kids safe?
    Here we go again. School bureaucrats are setting policy based on skin color.

    Do school rules apply to some students but not others based on race? Once again, the elephant in the room is single parent households not someone’s skin color. Period.

    Research and common sense tells ya that kids who grow up in single parent households are 10 times more likely to abuse drugs, commit crimes and more likely to receive school suspensions. So what can the district do about single parent households? Tough question but changing guidelines will only add to the problem of other students at ETHS trying to learn. Remember them?

    Students are suspended usually for drugs, weapons or bodily harm. So if school bureaucrats are interested in filling the suspension gap then we as parents want to know what they are doing TO KEEP OUR KIDS SAFE!!!

  3. I am concerned for the
    I am concerned for the teachers and students having to deal with those students whose behavior is clearly a distraction to an appropriate learning environment. The teachers’ disciplinary options are being limited, leading to an erosion of morale, and those students wanting to better themselves will be further distracted.

    In a competitive society, where we benefit from those who excel and innovate, lowering the bar to ensure success is not an option. The message sent by lowering our standards will not be favorable in the long term.

  4. So fix it !

    If the problem is teachers, staff, administration Evanston is small enough that the Superintent should be able to train, replace,move, fire those who are not following procedures, discriminating or providing inferior education. Who stops him ? The union ? Schools are for the kids, not permanent jobs for teachers or administration. Instead he and others call for studies and never ending talk ! Maybe if the Superintendent can’t do the work, we need a new one—and clean house downward.

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