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New law puts suspensions in spotlight at ETHS

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Suspensions increased nearly five percent at Evanston Township High School last school year, despite the school's efforts to prepare for the implementation of a new state law this fall that's designed to reduce their use.

But a report to be reviewed at Monday's school board meeting says that the 623 suspensions last year was down 43 percent from the level five years ago.

The new law, SB 100, signed by Gov. Rauner a year ago, requires school districts to reduce the amount of instruction missed by students facing disciplinary action.

The district's report says the effect of suspension on student performance is hard to quantify because while students who receive such punishments miss out on their classes, those who attend the Alternative Learning Center still receive instruction. About three-quarters of suspended students last year were assigned to attend the learning center, while the rest had to serve their suspension outside the school.

Over the past seven years the percentage of all students suspended at ETHS has declined from 16 percent to 9 percent.

The share of black students who were suspended declined from 31 to 17 percent. The share of Hispanic students suspended fell from 17 to 10 percent. And the share of white students suspended dropped from 6 to 3 percent.

To decrease suspension rates, District 202 has implemented alternative to suspension programs including a peer jury, reparations program, programming with the Moran Center, substance abuse education, and Brotherhood and Sisterhood groups.

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