SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois education officials are beginning to draft legislation that would prohibit school districts from dropping students from enrollment lists because they don’t meet minimum academic and attendance standards.

Illinois State Board of Education officials say that current state law increases the chance that at-risk students will drop out of school.

The Herald & Review (http://bit.ly/2d3pRWZ ) reports that under current state law, districts can deny enrollment for one semester to students 17 and older who failed to earn at least a D average in the previous semester or were absent more than 20 percent of the time without credible excuses.

“This’ll be an effort on our part to prevent these students from being pushed out of the system,” Amanda Elliott, the state board’s co-legislative director, told board members Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of conversations over the last couple of years and a lot of legislation that’s been filed, and we think that this is an important component of that conversation.”

State Superintendent Tony Smith said the proposal is in line with other efforts the board has made in recent years.

“It resonates with conversations we’ve had at the board for the last year and a half about ways to connect and hold on to kids and not be pushing kids out,” Smith said. “So the fact that there are some areas in the law that make it possible seems in conflict with the position the board’s taken.”

The new law, sponsored by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, is aimed at reducing the racial disparities in suspensions and expulsions as well as cutting down on their overall use.

“We need to keep young people in school learning how to succeed and off of the street corner learning how best to end up in prison,” Lightford said in a statement.


Information from: Herald & Review, http://www.herald-review.com