SPRINGFIELD, IL â€“ A 2012 study found that Illinois suspends more African-American students than any other state in the U.S., including a Black-White suspension disparity that is the highest in the country. To address this all-too-apparent problem and the overall frequency of out-of-school discipline, a new law will help to ensure that all students are in school and off the streets as much as possible.
â€œConstantly suspending and expelling the very kids that need to be in school is one of the most counter-productive practices of our education system,â€ said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, sponsor of the successful legislation. â€œWe need to keep young people in school learning how to succeed and off of the street corner learning how best to end up in prison.â€
The new law will address the frequency and racial disparity of suspensions and expulsions in several ways, including the following:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Disciplinary removals of longer than three days must be limited to instances where the studentâ€™s presence is an on-going threat to the school, and all other options have been exhausted.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A school board must state how a suspension and expulsion is in the best interest of a school before disciplinary action.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â School districts must establish re-engagement policies for disciplined students.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Suspended students must be given the opportunity to make up their work.
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â School officials must limit suspensions and expulsions to the greatest extent practicable.
Original research into state records has shown that in the 2010-2011 school year, Illinois students lost 1,117,453 instructional days due to disciplinary actions, 95 percent of which were for minor offenses.
â€œIllinoisâ€™ highest-need students are dropping out of school or ending up in the criminal justice system – at an enormous cost to Illinois taxpayers – for incidents that could have and should have been addressed within the school environment,â€ said Sen. Lightford. â€œExpulsions and suspensions will now only be a last resort. This is a great victory for everyone in Illinois and all those children who hold out hope for their future in what has seemed, at times, like an elusive dream of a great education.â€
The law goes into effect September 15, 2016.