District 65 Offices at JEH Education Center.

Only one student in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has been suspended so far this year, compared to an estimated 10-15 at the same time a year ago.

The district’s Director of Climate and Culture, Elijah Palmer, gave those numbers Monday night to a combined meeting of the District 65 and District 202 Boards of Education.

Last year, discipline problems in District 65, particularly at Haven Middle School, led to parent and teacher protests.

Superintendent Devon Horton told the board members that there had been an “unbelievable amount of suspensions and disruptions” systemwide in 2021-22.

But since then, District 65 has trained 120 employees in Crisis Prevention Intervention in various schools,which is 120 more than the same time last year.

That’s right. It was zero, because the problem resolution method requires face-to-face, and in some cases hands-on training, which was impossible due to COVID-19.

More staffers will receieve that training as this school year goes on.

District 65 has also hired both a manager and assistant manager of Prevention and Response, to coordinate the district’s safety and security planning.

There are newly created “concierge” positions at 16 of the district’s 18 school buildings, individuals who keep an eye out for trouble while also welcoming parents into the building.

Haven Middle School.

Specifically for Haven, which, Palmer said, had 40% of all of District 65’s suspensions last year, four liaison positions have been created to work specifically with students who may be causing problems, as well as contacting those students’ family members on what type of academic, social and emotional support the youngsters need.

Joint District 65/District 202 Board of Education meeting Monday night at D65 headquarters

Evanston Township High School officials also discussed safety and security.

Last December, two ETHS students were arrested on gun charges after two guns were discovered in the building. No shots were fired.

Students “want safety and security,” said Principal Taya Kinzie.

Kinzie noted that “relationships are the greatest type of prevention,” although structural measures, even something as simple as having students scan out and back in if they leave the building for lunch, are also important.

Kinzie said ETHS is emphasizing something called “ACT,” or acknowledge, care, tell, that, she said, “replaces the old-school mentality of ‘snitches get stitches.'”

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

Join the Conversation


  1. So District 65 spends money on ‘concierges’ instead of having SRO’s because SRO’s are too threatening and suspensions went down, what a joke. Many teachers and staff have have participated in CPI training over the past 5 years the irony that CPI training is suddenly the answer. I would venture to say that the lack of suspensions are most likely that teachers and staff are told to turn a blind eye and there are no consequences. Basically Dr. Horton and the school board is simply promoting and supporting their blank check policy of spending money, if they spend the money the problem is magically solved.
    The ‘ACT’ is a joke at ETHS, there are guns at the schools and the kids know which kids have them. No one will say anything because of fear of retaliation. Suddenly because there is a new acronym the problems are solved? If this community could be so lucky. People, parents and the community need to wake up.

  2. Horton and the board have nothing to do with a drop in school suspensions in D65 but. of course he’ll try to take some credit. The district enrollment dropped by 7%, with Haven having the largest decline – approx 180 students. There was a mass exodus of students who were well behaved with no behavioral issues. So….deductive reasoning, these school suspensions declined not because of concierge positions or Horton and the Board. The real test will be if 185 more students enroll next year, with 40 really challenging, poorly behaved cases. I’ll venture a guess if that happens, Horton will revert back to blaming teachers, the board will involuntarily remove those who don’t align with their views, and the cycle will continue. Worse yet, D202 continues to inherit all of the problems because historically D65 just kicks the can and hopes it will go away.

  3. Some Haven parents have alleged that teach transfers in the last academic year were a punishment (see https://evanstonnow.com/former-pta-head-haven-teacher-transfers-are-retaliation/). Whether or not that is true, the perception by teachers may lead them to not discipline students for fear of retaliation. Given the superintendent’s public comments about suspensions at Haven, it is reasonable to conclude that he puts at least some of the blame on teachers who had handed out suspensions. (see https://evanstonnow.com/horton-bringing-our-babies-home/)

  4. Suspensions are down because school leaders have to get permission from the district to provide a consequence. Students are being suspended but instead of it being coded as “out of school suspension” the powers that be are calling it something different.

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