Drop Zero Tolerance Discipline
Monday the Governor of Illinois signed SB 100 with bipartisan support. The bill made it law that discriminatory and disparate “zero-tolerance” approaches to student discipline will change. Student discipline will become more inclusionary for disciplined students and requires school administrators to provide essential academic and mental health supports to these students.
It shouldn’t take legislative action to pass a law that enacts common sense. Typical “zero-tolerance” approaches casts a wide net that school districts use to treat all students and situations as a “one size fits all” approach. District administrators and Boards of Education trap themselves in perpetual exclusionary practices that do not provide the necessary academic, social and emotional supports to the most needy students. This approach basically absolves the district of their responsibilities while further hurting the suspended or expelled students ability to address the behaviors necessary for success.
Districts must drop zero tolerance discipline approaches that treat all the students the same. There are situations that require a school imposed “death sentence” but acts like weapons violations are statistically not the majority of infractions leading to long-term suspension and expulsions. Equally disturbing is the fact students of color disproportionately represent the largest population of students suspended or expelled.
Schools doctrines are to provide supports and resources so every student grows academically, socially and emotionally. It is counterintuitive to accept this doctrine applies to most but not all students. Illinois’ passage of SB 100 is justified and hopefully contagious.