Major New Legislation Restricts Schools’ Legal Authority to Suspend and Expel Students

On August 24, 2015, Governor Rauner signed Senate Bill 100, requiring all Illinois school districts and charter schools to significantly change the way they suspend and expel students. Schools must adopt new discipline policies and implement the required changes by September 15, 2016.

Summary of Requirements Under the Act

  1. Schools must adopt student discipline policies consistent with the Act and review them annually.
  1. Schools must limit the number and duration of suspensions to the greatest extent possible.
  1. Zero-tolerance policies are prohibited.
  1. Schools are encouraged to use non-exclusionary discipline measures prior to suspending students; suspensions and expulsions are to be used only for legitimate educational purposes.
  1. Schools must not advise or encourage students to drop out of school due to behavioral or academic challenges.
  1. Schools may not issue monetary fines or fees as a disciplinary consequence, except that students may be required to pay restitution for lost, stolen, or damaged property.
  1. Schools must create a policy for suspended students, including those who have been suspended from the bus and do not have alternate transportation, to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.
  1. Schools must create a policy to facilitate the re-engagement of students who have been suspended or expelled from school.
  1. Schools must provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, school board members, school resource officers, and staff on the consequences of school exclusion, justice system involvement, effective classroom management, culturally responsive discipline, and developmentally appropriate disciplinary methods.
  1. Schools are encouraged to create memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement agencies to define the role of law enforcement within the school.
  1. Schools may now only suspend or expel students in accordance with the additional procedures and requirements outlined below.

Suspensions of 1-3 Days  

  • In the written suspension decision, the school must explain (1) the specific act of gross disobedience or misconduct; and (2) the rationale for the specific duration of the suspension.
  • Suspensions of three days or less may be used only if the student’s presence poses a threat to school safety OR a disruption to other students’ learning opportunities.
  • Students must be provided an opportunity to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.

Suspensions of 4 Days

  • In the written suspension decision, the school must (1) explain the specific act of gross disobedience or misconduct; (2) explain the rationale for the specific duration of the suspension; and (3) document whether other behavioral and disciplinary interventions were attempted or whether the school determined that there were no other appropriate and available interventions.
  • Schools may use suspensions of four days only if other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted AND the student’s presence in the school (1) poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or the school community, OR (2) substantially disrupts the operation of the school.
  • Students must be provided an opportunity to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.

Suspensions of 5-10 Days 

  • In the written suspension decision, the school must (1) explain the specific act of gross disobedience or misconduct; (2) explain the rationale for the specific duration of the suspension; (3) document whether other behavioral and disciplinary interventions were attempted or whether the school determined that there were no other appropriate and available interventions; and (4) document whether appropriate and available support services are to be provided or whether it was determined that there are no appropriate and available services for the student.
  • Schools may use suspensions of five-ten days only if other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted AND the student’s presence in the school (1) poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or the school community, OR (2) substantially disrupts the operation of the school.
  • Students who are suspended must be provided with appropriate and available support services during their suspensions.
  • Students must be provided an opportunity to make up any missed work for equivalent academic credit.

Expulsions 

  • In the written expulsion decision, school boards must: (1) detail the specific reasons why removing the student from the school is in the school district’s best interest; (2) provide a rationale with respect to the specific duration of time for the expulsion; and (3) document whether other behavioral and disciplinary interventions were attempted or whether the school determined that there were no other appropriate and available interventions.
  • Schools may expel a student only if other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted AND the student’s presence in the school (1) poses a threat to the safety of other students, staff, or the school community; OR (2) substantially disrupts the operation of the school.
  • A school may refer expelled students to appropriate and available support services during the time the student is expelled.

Senate Bill 100 will be a primary topic at our fall conferences. You may register for them at www.iasaedu.org. In addition, your school district may consider inservices on the new legal requirements. 

For additional information, please contact Lori Martin, Jennifer Deutch, or Michelle Todd.

Sign up for our monthly Extra Mile newsletter. We go the extra mile so you don't have to. Subscribe