The Decatur School District has issued a response to a story noting that it was one of 83 districts flagged by the Illinois State Board of Education for high rates of suspension and expulsion for three consecutive years.
As part of 2015 legislation that passed the General Assembly, school discipline records are made available to the public on the state board's website. In Central Illinois, Bloomington, Champaign, Danville, Decatur, Peoria and Springfield districts are all in the top 20 percent in discipline statistics. No action will be taken against those districts by the state.
Decatur Superintendent Paul Fregeau and a district spokeswoman did not respond to multiple interview requests before the story was published. The district did provide a chart of statistics that corresponded to the reports published by the state board.
The story appeared in Saturday's Herald & Review. In a statement posted on its Facebook page on Sunday, the district outlined steps it is taking to make changes to its alternative education program.
Below is the district's full statement:
"You may have read the article Saturday morning in the Herald and Review regarding Illinois schools that are in the top 20% for discipline statistics (suspensions and expulsions). As part of this information sharing from the State Board of Education, Decatur found out they are on the list as are many other large central Illinois school districts including Champaign, Bloomington, Danville, Peoria, and Springfield.
"As the District strives to find a balance between providing students a high quality education and holding students accountable for inappropriate behavior, the District continuously reviews discipline practices. For instance, the Alternative Placement Rooms (APR) have been discontinued for the upcoming year and CARE, Recovery, and Transition Rooms are being instituted in the schools. The District is also revamping the Alternative Education Program. An Alternative Education Committee was established and is currently refining plans for a K-12 Alternative Education School, a Suspension School, and fine-tuning the aforementioned CARE, Recovery, and Transition Rooms.
"District leadership and the Board of Education understands that the community charges us with providing an excellent education for ALL students. We also understand the community expects the District to provide a safe and orderly environment, a welcoming atmosphere free from the threat of physical harm which is conducive to teaching and learning for students to receive an excellent education.
"The District continues the implementation of Trauma-Informed Practices and Restorative Practices to better address students’ individual needs before situations warrant the removal of a child from the educational setting. This work began a few years ago and these efforts continue to be expanded and refined. This process is ongoing and the District is learning how to best utilize strategies with each passing year.
"The District’s Strategic Plan was recently finalized through collaboration with the community. The Plan has numerous positions that support serving the “whole student.” Strategy 1: Result Statement #4 states the District will “Deploy a district-wide, ‘whole student’ approach that improves academic and social outcomes in the learning environment.” Strategy 3 states “We will establish a support network that will identify and address students’ physical, social/emotional, and mental health needs to allow each student to reach their full potential.”
"The District will continue the work to balance learning needs with behavioral needs. Thanks to our community for partnering with us on many of these initiatives. The District looks forward to working with all our stakeholders to become THE destination District of this region!"