- Late last month, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill curtailing suspensions and expulsions in the state.
- The bill, which was backed by student groups, will require Illinois districts to rewrite their discipline policies to limit harsh measures.
- Long suspensions, expulsions, and other strict measures will only be allowed if a student poses a threat or significantly interferes with the operation of the school.
Educators and policymakers have been rethinking zero-tolerance policies implemented in the wake of school shootings in the 1990s in recent years as increasing attention is drawn to the school-to-prison pipeline. President Barack Obama’s administration has supported the effort, calling for the repeal of such policies across the country. Harsh disciplinary policies often result in disparate punishment for black students and other minorities, which can exacerbate academic gaps.
Still, some educators and administrators say the shift has left them without the support they need to control their classrooms and schools. The changes come at the same time that many schools have seen counselors and other support staff cut, leaving most of the responsibility in the hands of teachers and principals.