CASE Advocacy Campaign November 2018
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CASE Meets with D65 Administration Regarding Revisions to Student Discipline Policy

District 65 is in the process of revising its Student Discipline Policy. This is an important development for the CASE community because students with disabilities are among the most disciplined students in the District and are also disproportionately subjected to exclusionary practices. 

In 2017, 21% of the District 65 students with IEP's had major office disciplinary referrals (ODR's) (up from 14% in 2016). Moreover, looking at the most recent suspension data (3rd quarter of 2018), 21 of the 35 suspension incidents (84%) were students with IEP's - a sobering statistic given that students with IEP's make up just 12.5% of the student body. These figures are consistent with our experience; we often hear concerns from CASE parents about ways in which their children are disciplined as well as the frequency of that discipline. In particular, we hear about the over-use of ODR's, the withholding of recess as a consequence for misbehavior, the use of in-school suspensions, and "time out" or "reflection" rooms being used as punishment.

With this in mind, CASE has sought to influence the District's discipline policy in ways that will protect the rights of our students and maximize their educational experience. Accordingly, last summer, we attended two of the community focus groups that the district convened on its disciplinary practices and policy. More recently, we reviewed the Draft D65 Student Discipline Policy: read HERE

On October 31st, we (Cari Levin and Jill Calian) met with Andalib Khelghati, Assistant Superintendent of Schools and Joyce Bartz, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services, to discuss those recommendations. We drafted a detailed letter outlining our recommendations for revisions.    Overall, our recommendations focused on the necessity that the District be more deliberate in addressing the needs of students with disabilities. 
  • We emphasized that the District must apply school discipline policies and practices in a way that does not disproportionately impact students with disabilities. 
  • We encouraged the District to commit to differentiated instruction and supports for all learners, including students with disabilities, particularly in areas of classroom behavior management and instructional supports. 
  • We urged that staff be trained on the impact of disability and trauma on behavior, classroom behavioral techniques, and de-escalation of conflict. 
  • We said that when choosing consequences for misconduct, school staff must consider whether a student has a disability and also, whether if that student has an IEP/BIP, that IEP was properly implemented at and around the time of the incident. 
  • We observed that when a student's IEP/BIP and school/district policy conflict, the IEP/BIP should govern. 
  • We also suggested that the district should track both in-school and out-of-school suspensions.
Mr. Khelghati and Ms. Bartz were receptive to and appreciative of our input. They agreed to share with us the subsequent iterations of the policy and consult with us moving forward.  We will keep you posted as this evolves.