New IL law brings changes to school discipline in 2016 - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New IL law brings changes to school discipline in 2016

HERRIN, IL (KFVS) -

Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill that will prohibit "zero tolerance" suspensions and expulsions.

It will require schools to try every outlet before expelling or suspending a student for more than three days.

Herrin High School principal, Dr. Terry Ryker said it's a requirement that he feels most schools already have in place.

"We know as educators, we have to have the kids here at school in order for them to do well – we rarely never want to send them unless it’s the last option," Ryker said.

The high school has an in-school suspension, also known as "alternative classroom" for students who might have been suspended in the past.

“We keep them here at school," Ryker said. "I wouldn’t say isolated but maybe with just a few students – maybe five or six all day with one teacher to watch over them, to do their homework. And it is a certified teacher so it doesn’t count as a day away from school.”

Last year, Ryker stated the school had a little less than 50 suspensions.

“We try to reduce them every year, it’s not something we want to have," he explained. "It’s something we do when we have exhausted all other means.”

The bill states out-of-school suspensions of three days or less may be used only if the student's continuing presence in school poses a threat to school safety or a disruption to other students' learning opportunities.

A change that some people say is needed.

“Kids get shafted too fast," Susie Waldrop said. "We throw them in because we look at them and we say, 'there’s the bad kid right there, let's just chuck them out,' before getting to know the problem or before we can even get down to the problem. So I think that it’s a good idea not to have them expelled every time."

“It shows the child that society is not like that, that once you mess up that you’re going to be punished for that,"  resident Cynthia Rhoades said. "You at least get two or three chances. You do at a work place, why not at a school?” 

While Ryker does believe it’s a good idea, he could see where the bill may cause some backlash.

“I could see possibly a student that maybe would’ve been suspended comes back to school and cause more disruptions which starts to interfere with other kids and other student’s educations," Ryker said. "I think that’s when you may hear some backlash.” 

For suspensions that are longer than three days, expulsions, and/or disciplinary removals to alternative schools, the bill states these routes may be used only if behavioral services and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted and the student's continuing presence still poses a threat to students, staff, and other people on school grounds.

It will also require schools to talk with parents about their students' behavior and why specific disciplinary measures are being used.

The bill goes into effect September 15, 2016.

The bill is SB0100.

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