JSD 117 Administrators Present Breakdown of Discipline After Concerns Raised from IL Report Card

By Benjamin Cox on February 23, 2024 at 9:27am

The Jacksonville School District Board of Education heard lengthy presentations last night from two administrators.

Jacksonville High School Principal Joey Dion and Jacksonville Middle School Principal Celeste Lashmett presented statistical breakdowns on how and upon whom the district administers discipline, mainly the use of out of school suspensions.

School board members and residents sounded the alarm on a disproportionately high number of students receiving out of school suspensions, according to the Illinois State Report Card. Similar alarm was raised about the district’s lower graduation rate.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that the vast majority of the discipline problems at both buildings are being driven by a small number of repeat offenders: “Every once in awhile, you will hear rumors about things that have happened at the high school or middle school. We just felt very confident to tell the Board that the events that people know about are taking place about a very small group of students. That’s the reason why we have created a place like Crossroads. There were 6 students at the middle school that were causing a substantial number of the suspensions there. Two of the students have been moved to Crossroads this year and are getting a good education and doing quite well. It’s just a better location for them. They don’t have the drama and the turmoil that is potentially distracting them also from their educational pursuits. The data also showed that the behaviors that caused the suspensions at both the middle school and the high school have dropped in the last year. Once again, we don’t say that the suspensions have dropped because there are many school districts that just don’t suspend kids anymore. So to say ‘Hey our suspensions dropped’ isn’t really an indication of a better academic atmosphere. We are able to say ‘yes things are better than last year’ when we compare our numbers from this year to last.”

Ptacek says that similar to the breakdown given about the graduation rate over a month ago, the deep dive presented to the board by both administrators zeroed on specifics, show that less than 10 students in each building at made up approximately 25% of the out of school suspension days.

Ptacek says the district review of these cases present a better picture rather than what he called a fish-eye overview given by the State Board of Education’s report card numbers.