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.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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5 Comments

  1. So let me get this straight. On May 13th, Horton proclaimed this as a hate crime. Now on June 14th, as this “investigation” continues into its second month, he suddenly can’t talk about it?

    Also the logical jiu jitzu that has to take place to blame teachers for suspensions is quite incredible, black belt level nonsense. Administrators do suspensions, not teachers. Suspensions ended up being the only options because there is no other system put into place by the JEH upper admins. Additionally it was mandated that staff enter these infractions into this system. This was admin’s idea and now they get to use it against the teachers. Slow clap. Queue the circus music.

  2. The legal bar for hate crimes is way, way above middle schoolers hanging a noose from a shrub (it’s generous to call that a tree).

    Symbolically, it is unacceptable and harmful to black people everywhere, and the children who did it need some help, but I personally will be shocked if it results in a hate crime charge.

    Horton probably knows this after contacts with EPD, which is why he’s suddenly less histrionic. By the way, a tendency for histrionics is not a great leadership characteristic.

  3. I’m growing tired of Horton and his destructive methods as school superintendent, and by reading comments here and other city news sources it clearly appears I’m far from being alone here. Now is the time for tax paying Evanston residents to amicably insist on Horton to resign his position as D65 superintendent. All I’ve seen so far under Horton and certain D65 school board members is divisiveness, segregation and ugly behaviors—-“do as we say or you’re a racist.”

    From my perspective it’s clearly obvious there’s serious problems within the D65 hierarchy and those in charge are not up to the tasks required to fix the problems. Evanston D65 has a history of quality education, great teachers and exceptional school administrators. But for too long now we’ve seen poor leadership destroy the core values of D65 schools—-parents are pulling their kids from D65 schools at an alarming rate—-we need to restore confidence that our public school systems performance matches the exorbitant amount of money being spent.

    Either Superintendent Horton resigns and we vote out troublesome members of the school board, or pursue a means of terminating his contract. The school children of Evanston deserve and must have nothing short of the best.

  4. on white liberal guilt. This is such a disservice to all children especially those they claim to be most concerned about. Most of these folks he brought in seem to have been CPS turn around hacks who basically took orders from AUSL. They came in temporarily and fired teachers and made them reapply for their jobs. Ironically, there were charges that it lead to firing a disproportionate number of black teachers.

    Horton is basically an opportunist playing the same divide and conquer game that Trump did. If you disagree or question, you are a racist. No room for critical thinking or gray areas.

    He is not going anywhere. It is unlikely that any other district would hire him without performing a simple background check that any competent potential landlord would perform before renting to a prospective tenant.

    I’m not an Evanston resident anymore, but people are going to have to step up and run for the Board so that children can receive the kind of education that they deserve.

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