Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Monday that will prohibit Illinois public schools, including charters, from using "zero tolerance" discipline policies, unless otherwise required by law.
The measure, SB 100, sponsored by State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and state Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest), also seeks to limit the use of exclusionary school disciplinary actions, like out-of-school suspensions or expulsions, that eat up classroom learning time and disproportionately impact students of color and those with disabilities.
Among other requirements, the legislation bans the use of disciplinary-related fees in schools, and school districts will have to establish re-engagement policies for disciplined students.
Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) pushed for the legislation in Springfield.
"For too long, harsh school discipline practices have contributed to the under-education and over-criminalization of young people, and especially youth of color," said VOYCE member Dalia Mena, 18. "Illinois now provides more tools for schools to create environments where all students are valued and supported in their learning and development. SB 100 makes Illinois a national leader with a model for other states to follow."
The legislation takes effect September 15, 2016.