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CPS Touts Decline in Suspensions

By Josh McGhee | February 7, 2014 4:58pm
 CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett touted the revised code of conduct for its decline in suspensions.
CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett touted the revised code of conduct for its decline in suspensions.
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DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday

CHICAGO — After announcing an unprecedented drop in school suspensions since reworking its student code of conduct in 2012, Chicago Public Schools plans a comprehensive strategy to build on the dramatic decrease.

The student code of conduct yielded a 36-percent decline in suspensions giving "our students the support they needed while keeping them in school and learning," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chicago Public Schools CEO.

"We know that suspensions cut into instructional time, and keep our students out of the classroom," said Byrd-Bennett.

Strict discipline codes have historically negatively impacted student attendance and academic achievement because of the loss of instructional time, CPS said in a statement Friday. CPS focused on "corrective and instructive practices" when they amended the student code of conduct in 2012 with "a more equitable approach to student discipline."

So far through January of this school year, CPS has had 14,587 out-of-school suspensions in its high schools compared to 22,797 in the 2010-2011 school year; the new student code of conduct was implemented in June 2012. During the same period in the 2011-2012 school year, 18,514 suspensions were handed down along with 16,205 in the 2012-2013, said Joel Hood, a CPS spokesman.

Following the positive results CPS plans to enhance the program to "ensure that our students are given every opportunity to learn-problem solving and relationship-building skills that are critical for success both inside and outside of the classroom," said Byrd-Bennett, who has assembled a committee to keep students in the classroom.

The committee will incorporate five strategies to develop the policies: revising the student code of conduct, enhancing the accountability systems, continuing the development of effective resources, increasing professional development and citywide collaboration to support success.

CPS hopes charter schools will join in the effort "to establish a more consistent and supportive discipline policies to ensure safe, welcoming school climates."