‘Record number of participants’ take part in District 203 bullying, student discipline policy reviews  

stock image of bullying, boy sitting with arms folded, head in arms on ground as others look on
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Staff, students, parents, caregivers, administrators and several board of education members recently reviewed a pair of Naperville School District 203 policies pertaining to student bullying and discipline. Both are currently under review and subject to a few modifications.

While the policy reviews are common protocol each year, this year’s process has been notable because more input than usual was offered up, in large part because District 203 officials changed up the process.

Participation at an all-time high

Illinois School Code requires districts annually form an advisory committee to review the policies and recommend potential changes.

Chala Holland, assistant superintendent for administrative services/high schools, provided information on this year’s review process in a memo to the board of education. It was reviewed at the elected body’s most recent meeting April 3.

“There was a record number of participants, very high engagement and insightful dialogue between stakeholder groups,” Holland wrote in the memo.

In an effort to gather as much feedback on what District 203 is doing right with bullying mitigation and student discipline — and what policies and procedures can be refined — Holland said the format for feedback sessions was tweaked.

“This year, the committee met during the school day to increase student participation and engagement,” Holland wrote. “The meeting was structured to allow parents, caregivers and other attendees to participate in-person or remotely.”

What could change in the bullying prevention policy

This year’s advisory committee proposed a few tweaks to the district’s bullying prevention policy, adding language that makes it clear racial, ethnic and religious slurs, threats and physical gestures would qualify as bullying.

No major changes have been proposed in the student behavior policy, based on the draft information shared with the board at its most recent meeting.

Administrators reported to the board a continued desire to work on some of the restorative practices that have been in place for students in violation of the bullying policy. The goal, according to officials, is to keep such students involved in as many facets of school life as possible while dually trying to address the issue at hand.

What the board had to say at first glance

At the April 3 meeting, board members discussed, but took no action, on the policy drafts. Official action is slated at the board’s next meeting April 17.

Based on the preliminary information submitted from administrators, board members were overwhelmingly supportive.

Board President Kristin Fitzgerald took part in the feedback session and said she was pleased with the insight offered up — particularly from the very people District 203 serves.

“It was a really wonderful, robust discussion from our students,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that doing it during the day was fantastic. It allowed for more participation.”

Board member Amanda McMillen offered similar comments, saying, “I really love the process you’re all going through with student voice.”

Board member Joseph Kozminski inquired if the feedback sessions could also be offered at District 203’s elementary and junior high schools.

“We can take that under consideration,” Superintendent Dan Bridges said, in response. “We typically haven’t done it. I think that’s something we as an administration could talk about and consider what that might look like.

photo courtesy: stock image, Mikhail Nilov

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