More tolerance in new Chicago Public Schools code of conduct
Sep 01, 2011
Chicago Public Schools has adopted a new student discipline policy that one parent group says moves the district a step away from zero tolerance.
Staff members are being told to treat minor infractions as learning opportunities to reinforce positive behavior. Out-of school suspensions are to be used as a last resort.
CPS officials said for the most serious infractions, restorative justice--programs such as peace circle and a jury of student peers determining punishment--can be offered in addition to suspensions and expulsions.
"The change is mostly in the language," says Charles Bergman with Community Organizing and Family Issues, which has been advocating against the district's zero tolerance policies for years. "It's emphasizing more strongly that out-of-school suspensions is meant to be used as a last resort not for any old misconduct."
COFI's initial victories came in 2006 and 2007 when CPS officially removed the term "zero tolerance" from its student code of conduct. This year again, COFI members helped the district draft new language for the code.
Bergman said that while the group would have liked the policy to go further and say restorative justice should be used to determine discipline for the more serious violations, the new policy is "a step in the right direction."