School Zero-Tolerance, Expulsion Policies May Be No More Thanks To New Bill

May 14, 2015

A plan that would limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions is moving through the Illinois legislature. 

The measure would end zero-tolerance policies and the practice of charging fees for minor infractions and emphasize in-house measures over expulsions.

A Chicago youth group pushed the changes for the past two years. Along the way, they dropped a component that sought to limit offenses warranting arrests on campus.

“What this bill was and what this bill is…it’s very different,” Quentin Anderson, the campaign director for the youth group, said. “But that shows the maturity of our young people, that they were willing to compromise. And they were willing to compromise because the policy of this bill, the culture shift that this bill encourages, is more important than getting everything that you want.”

Anderson spoke from personal experience, telling a House education committee he racked up 54 referrals as an 8th grader but was not expelled.

“I had an assistant principal who pulled me aside and told me that I was too smart for the dumb things that I was doing,” Anderson said. “He said that he wasn’t going to let my behavior at age 13 affect what I was going to do at 23, 33 and 43.” 

The measure would take effect in September 2016.