CPS Proposes Progressive Revisions to Student Code of Conduct to Promote Equitable Discipline Practices and Strengthen Student Support and Safety
23 July 2018
Proposed Revisions Seek to Further Address Racial Discipline Disparities in Out-of-School Suspensions, Formalize the Role of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX, Protect Students From Bullying and Harassment Based on Immigration Status
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, July 23, 2018
CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools today proposed progressive revisions to its Student Code of Conduct (SCC) to build on the district’s restorative approach to discipline, promote equitable practices, and ensure all students have access to safe and supportive learning environments. These improvements, which the Chicago Board of Education will consider at its July 25th meeting, will adjust suspension practices to further address racial disparities, protect students from bullying or harassment based on immigration status, and formalize the role of the new Office of Student Protections and Title IX in addressing student-on-student sexual harassment, bullying, assault, and abuse.
“In recent years, we have transformed our disciplinary practices from punitive to restorative, and during that same time period, students’ grades, test scores, and rates of graduation and college enrollment have dramatically improved,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “We are building on the district’s policies and cultural shift toward restorative practices to address inequities in discipline head-on and provide an unprecedented student support network through our new Office of Student Protections and Title IX. Education must be holistic, and the proposed improvements to the SCC will continue our focus on fostering positive learning environments and deploying social and emotional support to help students reach their full potential.”
Improving school climates through social and emotional learning, restorative practices, interventions and training for school security officers is a key focus outlined in the district’s Vision. Since 2012, when the district adopted a revised Student Code of Conduct focused on social and emotional learning, out-of-school suspensions have been reduced by 76 percent and expulsions have dropped by 59 percent – a reduction seen among every demographic subgroup.
The SCC is designed provides comprehensive guidance to administrators, teachers, staff, students, and parents on the district’s policies to maintain safe, supportive, participatory and productive learning environments. These revisions reflect the district’s vision, which holds equity as a moral imperative and calls for an increased focus on student support and restorative practices. Along with other student support measures, including the recent addition of more than 250 social workers and special education case worker positions and creation of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX, these proposed updates to the SCC will strengthen students supports, encourage more equitable outcomes, and build on the district’s` commitment to keeping students safe.
Proposed Changes to the SCC Include:
Helping Address Racial Disparities in Suspension Practices
In order to increase clarity of documentation and reduce racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspension practices, the district is proposing network-level approval for violations that fall under “catch-all codes” (Sections 3-6 and 4-9 that both refer to “any behavior not otherwise listed”) to ensure that the use of suspensions is appropriate, equitable, and employed as a last resort. While these codes are intended for rare instances to account for infractions that do not squarely fit into other categories, the district is proposing network approval because approximately 1 out of every 4 out-of-school suspensions in the district were issued using SCC Section 4-9, resulting in inequitable and inconsistent disciplinary practices.
Since the 2012-2013 school year, CPS has seen a 76 percent reduction in out-of-school suspensions, and every demographic subgroup has seen reductions – including African American students whose out-of-school suspensions rates have decreased by 75 percent during the same time period. However, African American students still account for an outsized percentage of suspensions. The district is proposing this policy to proactively address racial disparities in discipline practices to foster more equitable outcomes. The district’s current definitions and policies regarding infractions can be found at https://cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/SCC_StudentBehaviors.pdf
Incorporating the Student Support Role of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX
Designed to help safeguard and advocate for students, the newly created Office of Student Protections and Title IX (OSP) will provide direct support and assistance to schools in responding to allegations of student-on-student sexual harassment, assault, abuse, and bullying. The district is proposing updated SCC language to provide clear guidance on OSP’s critical role coordinating the response and supports for all sexual harassment, abuse, or bullying incidents where students are potential victims.
Strengthening Anti-Bullying Policies and Safeguarding Against Discrimination
Every CPS student, regardless of their background, deserves to have a safe and supportive learning environment free from bullying and harassment. The district’s proposed revisions strengthen anti-bullying policies by providing schools with a step-by-step protocol and guidance for responding to allegations of bullying, which includes the role of OSP. The policy updates also codify the district’s values and current practices by explicitly adding prejudice and bias as a form of bullying, and explicitly adding immigration status as a protected student group, in addition to the following groups that are already included: race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, gender identity, gender expression and disability.
Updating Language on Restorative Efforts to Reflect Current Practice
To ensure students are supported, the district has enacted several policy changes over the years to transition from a punitive discipline approach to a trauma-sensitive and restorative approach to discipline. CPS is committed to expanding upon these policies and pairing them with student supports in order to address inequities and keep students engaged in the classroom. Proposed changes include:
Codifying the District’s Position Against Zero-Tolerance Discipline Policies: While the district has continually strengthened its restorative approach to discipline and rejected so-called “zero-tolerance” policies, explicit language will be added to the SCC to align to state law prohibiting the use of zero tolerance practices, such as automatic suspensions for specific behaviors.
Strengthening Trauma-Sensitive and Therapeutic Responses: The district is proposing updated language to CPS’ trauma-sensitive approach to discipline, identifying trauma as one possible root cause of behavior challenges and incorporating trauma-focused interventions as a potential response. The district is also proposing changes to language defining alcohol and drug violations to differentiate between the sale of drugs and possession in order to better define our policies and respond to students who may be struggling with addiction.
The revised SCC provides comprehensive guidance to administrators to respond to disruptive student behavior, better enabling schools to drive consistent and supportive school discipline practices throughout the district. Since 2012, CPS has made a series of major improvements to the SCC to shift from punitive discipline to foster safe learning environments. The sustained effort to update the SCC aligns with district’s Vision and commitment to students’ social emotional well-being, restorative justice, and equity.
Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.
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