Local Illinois schools moving on from the zero-tolerance policy

Inside My Classroom

QUAD CITIES, Ill. (KWQC) — A new law in Illinois is designed to replace the zero-tolerance policy with the goal to keep kids in school, even when they are in trouble.

The bill proposed last year, was signed and went into effect last week. Now schools across Illinois are ditching the zero-tolerance police to come up with a new way to determine punishment.

Moline High School is re-vamping its discipline standards to match Senate Bill 100. This law limits long-term punishments like expulsion and suspension.

Christopher Moore, Moline High School’s Dean of Students, said the school had to find a new way to deal with behavior issues while keeping students in class as much as possible.

“Both architecturally and programmatically, we’ve redesigned and reconfigured how we deliver services to students at risk or students who are at risk of exclusionary discipline like suspensions,” said Moore.

Kristin Sanders, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Personnel for Moline, said the district anticipated the law change and began exploring options last year.

Together staff decided this was an opportunity to find a way to include all students in the classroom.

“If they were suspended they were suspended for a reason, or if they are having behavior challenges it’s for a reason. We need to get at that problem and try to fix it rather than just exclude them,” said Sanders.

The district’s discipline committee spent long hours developing a set of guidelines and rubric to help administrators and teachers determine the appropriate level or punishment.

Senate Bill does allow the school to suspend students but only if the student is a danger to the school and or themselves.

“Part of that rubric also included how to reintegrate students back into the school day once their suspension was complete,” said Sanders.

The district’s goal is to get students back into class as fast as they can.

“We find that we are much more able to effectively offer services in those necessary interventions if they are here,” said Moore.

It’s still too early to know if the new law is lowering the state’s number of expulsions, but Moline High School plans to monitor it’s numbers closely this year.

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