In a press release, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced on Friday that the district has seen a 36 percent decrease in out-of-school suspensions since the 2010-2011 school year.
CPS credits the drop to changes the district made back in 2012 to its student code of conduct regarding school discipline. The district moved away from zero-tolerance policies and scaled back disciplinary actions that can take students out of the classroom.
The recent news from CPS comes a few weeks after the Obama administration rolled out new school discipline guidelines that call on educators to abandon harsh policies, like suspensions and expulsions, for minor infractions that disproportionately impact minorities and students with disabilities.
“We know that suspensions cut into instructional time, and keep our students out of the classroom,” Byrd-Bennett said in the release. “The student code of conduct that we implemented brought great results – a 36 percent decline in suspensions – and gave our students the support they needed while keeping them in school and learning. We will now expand on this work to further enhance and build the program and ensure that our students are given every opportunity to learn the problem-solving and relationship-building skills that are critical for success both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Byrd-Bennett said the district will be ramping up its work to reduce suspensions and expulsions, adding that a steering comittee has been set up to help with the effort.
Notably, CPS also announced that for the first time the district is providing charter operators with some of the same “alternatives to expulsion” intervention programs that have helped to cut the expulsions in traditional public schools. Also, CPS said charter operators that create student codes of conduct that more closely mirror the district's policy will receive preference in the school approval or renewal process.