CPS introduces new student code of conduct

Suspensions encouraged only as "last resort"

July 28, 2011

(WBEZ/file)

Chicago Public School students will have a new set of disciplinary rules to follow when they start school this year. The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to pass a substantial amount of changes, additions and deletions to the student code of conduct. Community activists are already speaking out over one new rule that advises schools to only use out-of-school suspensions as a "last resort."

Joel Rodriguez, organizer for Voices for Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, said the new changes aren't enough.

"What we're seeing today is not really nothing new, restorative policy was already encouraged in the Chicago Public schools but the problem is there was no transition into that system, so I'd like to see how are we gonna transition into using less punitive measures and really using restorative justice," Rodriguez said.

VOYCE members rallied at CPS headquarters earlier this month, demanding changes to the code. The protest came at the heels of a study by VOYCE and The Advancement Project that links suspensions and other harsh punishments to an increase in dropouts. Rodriguez said the new code is a step in the right direction, but he is worried it won't be enforced properly.

The code of conduct is reviewed annually by CPS, but changes are only made as the board sees fit. Other new changes include adding "sexting" to the list of items under "inappropriate sexual conduct," and adding gang activity or "overt displays of gang affiliation" under inappropriate behavior.

The new rules will take effect September 15th.