CPS: We’ll consider federal discipline guidelines

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The federal government put out a set of new discipline guidelines.

Officials from the Departments of Justice and Education say this will help schools get rid of suspensions and expulsions that are too harsh.

They also say there’s a racial gap when it comes to school discipline, saying that black students are more likely to be suspended or expelled.

CPS is one example of that.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education have black students making up 45% of total student enrollment.

But black students receive 69% of in-school suspensions, 75.8% of out of school suspensions, and 79.9% of expulsions.

“Racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem today. It is not just an issue from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago,” said Education Secretary, and former CPS CEO, Arne Duncan.  “Schools should remove students from the classroom as a last resort and only for appropriately serious infrastructures like endangering the safety of other students, teachers or themselves.”

“(Zero tolerance policies) can have significant and lasting negative effects on the long term well-being of our young people, increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice systems, ” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

The new federal guidelines that Duncan and Holder are pushing include encouraging schools to create positive environments, have officials understand students’ civil rights, and having schools rely on suspensions and expulsions as a last resort.

“This the first Administration to provide guidance to the public on discrimination in school discipline,” said Duncan.  “And we want to continue to provide leadership on this critical problem going-forward to ensure equal opportunity for all students.”

CPS officials say they’ve been working on the issue.

“The district has moved away from a disciplinary system of zero tolerance to one that is focused on instructive and corrective responses to misbehavior,” said a CPS statement sent to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago Teachers Union is pushing to adopt the new guidelines.

“Far too many black and Latino students are suspended, expelled, and forced to drop out of school, creating a school-to-prison pipeline,” the union said in a statement.

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