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vp floor 3SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) to address inequities in expulsions and suspensions in Illinois high schools has passed the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation comes after a 2012 study stated that Illinois suspends more African-American students than any other state in the nation.

Senate Bill 100, an initiative of Voices for Youth in Chicago Education and negotiated with school management as well as law enforcement, will make numerous changes to the School Code. The legislation is designed to reduce the racial disparities in expulsions and suspensions that have plagued Illinois schools.

“Some of our most vulnerable students, who struggle with poverty and a lack of parental discipline, are having the only steady influence in their lives taken away from them. When these students act out, they should be kept in school, not thrown out in the streets where they will not have the positive influence of our educators to help keep them in line,” Senator Van Pelt said.

The legislation addresses the frequency and racial disparity of suspensions and expulsions in several ways, including the following:

  • Disciplinary removals of longer than 3 days must be limited to instances where the student’s presence is an on-going threat to the school, and all other options have been exhausted.
  • A school board must state how a suspension or expulsion is in the best interest of a school before disciplinary action.
  • School districts must establish re-engagement policies for disciplined students.
  • Suspended students must be given the opportunity to make up their work.
  • School officials must limit suspensions and expulsions to the greatest extent practicable.

State records show 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.