How public schools can punish students would be changed under legislation being considered by the General Assembly. The bill seeks to cut down on public school students being suspended or expelled for what may be considered minor offenses. Jose Sanchez, coordinator for Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, says those punishments are disproportionately handed out to African-American and Latino students across all school districts in the state.
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“Definitely the issue exists in Chicago, but we also see it happening in Champaign, East St. Louis, Rockford, Peoria, and even Springfield,” Sanchez said, “and even when we’ve spoken with some students in districts that are in suburbs that are predominantly white, we still hear some of the same stories.”
Sanchez says every day, 800 African-American and Latino students in Illinois are suspended.
The legislation would also eliminate the practice of “counseling out” public school students, and not allow schools to fine students for breaking rules. The bill has not been put for a vote in either the House or the Senate, but Sanchez believes it will be brought to the floor this week.