Illinois Gov Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 100 into law on Aug 24, making changes to the way public schools in the state can use suspensions and expulsions as punishment.
The new law encourages school districts to develop memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement so that the role those agencies play in the schools is clearly defined. Otherwise, the law requires schools to write discipline policies by Sept 15, 2016. Schools may not:
- Enact zero-tolerance policies for suspensions or expulsions, unless otherwise required by federal or state law
- Fine students or charge fees as a disciplinary consequence (schools may seek restitution for lost, stolen, or damaged property)
- Try to convince students to drop out voluntarily because of academic or behavioral difficulties
Any policy schools create is required to facilitate the re-engagement of students who are suspended, expelled, or returning from an alternative school setting. Those policies need to allow students to make up work they missed during their time out of school and to receive equivalent credit for the work they complete.
The law also requires schools to make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, school board members, school resources officers, and other members of the staff regarding classroom management strategies, culturally responsive discipline, and developmentally appropriate disciplinary methods.
If a school decides to expel a student, the district has to identify the specific reasons why removing the student is in the best interest of the school and provide a rationale for the duration of the expulsion.
A district may only expel a student if, as determined on a case-by-case basis, other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted and the student’s continuing presence in the school would either
- Pose a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or members of the school community; or
- Substantially disrupt, impede, or interfere with the operation of the school.
Suspension decisions still require the district to identify the act of gross disobedience or misconduct and provide a rationale for the duration of the suspension.
If the duration of the suspension is less than three days, the school simply has to show that the student’s continuing presence in school would either pose a threat to school safety or disrupt learning opportunities for other students.
An out-of-school suspension can last longer than three days only if the school shows that other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted and the student’s continuing presence in school would meet one of the two conditions specified under expulsions above.
Any students given a suspension of more than four days must be provided with appropriate and available support services during the suspension.
To the greatest extent practicable, school officials have to try to resolve disruptions or threats to school safety in a way that minimizes the length of out-of-school suspensions or any other “exclusionary” discipline.