The superintendent of School District 65 says the Evanston Police Department is “close to wrapping it up” in the investigation of three nooses found between Haven and Kingsley schools last month.
Horton told the school board Monday night that EPD is still working on the case, and the school system is “waiting for them to finalize their investigation” so the school district can wrap up its report.
Horton said he can’t disclose anything else right now, but he felt it was important to update the community as much as possible on where things stand.
Whatever the noose investigation reveals, district officials say it’s clear that Haven Middle School has far more discipline and behavior problems than any other school in the system.
Elijah Palmer, the district’s dean of climate and culture, reported that Haven had 2,538 discipline referrals in the last school year, more than double the 1,103 at second-ranked Chute Middle School.
It’s important to note a couple of things with those statistics, however,
First of all, Haven is the largest school in the district, with more than 800 students.
Second, at both Haven and in other school buildings, by far the largest number of writeups, about 90%, according to the district, involve low-level misbehavior such as being out of an assigned seat or using a cell phone in class.
Haven did have the largest number of out-of-school suspensions, but Palmer said that still only amounted to 4% of the Haven’s population.
District-wide, there were 139 such suspensions in 2021-22.
One particularly troubling statistic, Palmer said, is that 64% of out-of-school suspensions involved Black students, but only 25% of the district’s students are Black.
Board member Anya Tanyavutti said it is “troubling to see the racial predictability” of suspensions,” and said that “someone is perhaps over-documenting the behavior of students at Haven.”
Administrators pointed out that Haven disciplinary writeups decreased significantly in the last two months of school, following additional training and explanation for staff, from about 340 per month to around 40.
However, besides a number of district-wide initiatives for the upcoming year, such as having additional employees learn about restorative practices and crisis prevention, Palmer said there will be four “family and community liason” employees specifically added at Haven.
These liasons, Palmer said, will serve as mentors for a number of students, particularly those of color.
Board President Sergio Hernandez acknowledged there is still work to do, but “we are going to make some progress,” he said.
“We are going to turn these numbers around.”