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.
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.
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.'”