Less than 10 percent of referrals lead to suspensions

By Lourinda Triplett and Maria Lassandro, Reporters

District data shows that 1,404 referrals were written at Kaneland High School last year–but those referrals led to only 104 suspensions.

That’s because most of the referrals were written for relatively minor issues, such as being tardy, skipping class or being disruptive. Suspended students typically had committed a variety of more serious offenses, from having unexcused absences to theft, fighting, or drug and alcohol violations, data from District 302’s SWIS program shows.

Though there were 104 suspensions last year, only 78 different students received suspensions because some repeat offenders were suspended multiple times.

District data also revealed that Harter Middle School issues more referrals to students than KHS. A total of 1786 referrals were written for students at HMS last year, more than were issued at the high school, even though the high school has a slightly larger student body.

“Middle school is stricter while high school is more laid back, but the punishments on students are normally for a good reason,” freshman Sarah Wolfe said.

While the high school typically uses out-of-school suspensions, middle school students are more likely to receive an in-school suspension, the SWIS data showed. During an in-school suspension, the student sits silently in an office for the entire day and does school work.

Some students thought that out-of-school suspensions were not always a deterrant because those students were glad to miss a day of school.

“Suspensions don’t help many students at all. Some students are happy to be suspended and don’t really care; it’s just like a day off for them,” sophomore Trevor Malatek said.

The district is working to reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions and keep students in school, Dr. Jeff Schuler, superintendent, said.

“Next year, we will no longer suspend students for having unexcused absences, This will cut down on the overall number of out-of-school suspensions, keeping more students in class,” Schuler said. “Next year, our special education department is expanding their in-school suspension pilot program for students with IEPs. This will allow more students to receive academic interventions while experiencing a consequence for their behavior. This will also reduce the number of overall out-of-school suspensions.”

Parking violations will also no longer be cause for a referral.

“There is new parking policy that will limit the number of students parking illegally through the imposition of a fine, instead of referrals,” Schuler said.

The district hopes that the fine will be more of a deterrant than a detention.

Schuler said that the district is moving to take fighting more seriously next year, which he said he hoped would reduce the number of fights.

“We are moving fighting from a level III to a level IV offense,” Schuler said. “In addition to expanding all of our disciplinary options, this will mean that fighting will result in loss of participation for a period of time for students involved in sports and/or student activities. We anticipate that increasing the consequences for fighting will reduce the number of fights.”