At the March 17 District 202 Board meeting, Board member Jonathan Baum reported about the March 4 meeting of Evanston Township High School’s Disciplinary Committee.

Most of the news was positive: The number of suspensions has continued to decrease, as have the number of students suspended and the number of suspended students losing instructional days.

Also, more school work is being completed in the in-school suspension room, the “Alternative Learning Center,” ALC.

Since the 2009-10 school year, the number of suspensions has declined from 1,503 to 971 and the number of students suspended is down from 470 to 351.

There is an uptick, though, in the number of conflicts involving female students, Mr. Baum said.

Mr. Baum also said that in the Alternative Learning Center there are “more content-area teachers doing one-on-one instruction, more computer usage, and more social/emotional supports. … Students are being assigned specific work to be completed in the [ALC], including making up tests and quizzes.”

The Disciplinary Committee has also reviewed the rules of student conduct in the ETHS handbook, “The Pilot.”

A recent guideline from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education “alerted the committee to review offenses that might not be precisely enough defined, which the federal agencies suggest create a greater potential for discrimination,” Mr. Baum said.

In particular, the committee discussed the offenses of “defiance of authority,” “inappropriate behavior” and “pranks.”

The Board had earlier expressed concern about the vagueness of “inappropriate behavior,” said Mr. Baum, and students now are reportedly “being disciplined only for very specific conduct that falls under that rubric.”

The term “inappropriate behavior” will be deleted from the next edition of “The Pilot,” 2014-15.

A proposal to change “defiance of authority” to “refusal to respond to adult direction” and to remove it from the “serious offenses” category was “embraced” by the committee, and that information will be conveyed to the group developing the next edition.

The two aspects of “pranks” – “acts that could disrupt the educational process or harm others” – were discussed. While there appeared to be agreement that “pranks” that were harmful should not be allowed, the other aspect, “disrupting the educational process” appeared vague.

That information will also be given to the “The Pilot” committee, said Mr. Baum.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...