The District 203 School Board approved several changes to district policies at its Dec. 19 meeting.
A complete list of changes is available on the District 203 website under the School Board tab.
All proposed changes come from Press Plus, the service of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) that updates district policies in accordance with new laws and the IASB’s own policies.
After reviewing the proposed changes, the Central Times compiled a list of six of the changes.
5:100 Staff Development Program
Changes to the 5:100 policy require all staff to complete “training on preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse, grooming behaviors and boundary violations,” according to the policy.
Training will be mandatory for all new staff and must be repeated at least every three years.
The changes are made in accordance with Erin’s Law, which was created to combat child sexual abuse.
6:135- Accelerated Placement Program
Changes to Policy 6:135 require that any student who meets or exceeds state standards in math, English, or science be automatically enrolled in an advanced course for the following year.
Advanced courses at the high school level include dual credit courses, AP courses, or specialty courses.
Parents and students will have the option to opt out of a more advanced course, “to enroll instead in alternative courses that better align with the student’s post-secondary education or career goals,” according to Press Plus. .
7:70- Attendance and Absenteeism
Among several changes to the 7:70 policy, the phrase “Students absent for cause may make up missed homework and class work within a reasonable time” was added.
According to Press Plus, this change was proposed pursuant to an Illinois law regarding remedial work for pregnant students, but “it makes sense to apply such a policy to all students absent for cause.”
7:160 – Appearance of the students
Policy 7:160 updates are designed to comply with the Jett Hankins Act, passed in 2021 to prevent schools from adding hairstyle restrictions to their dress codes.
7:240- Code of Conduct for Participants in Extracurricular Activities
Changes to Policy 7:240 allow students to defend themselves when accused of violating an after-school program’s code of conduct.
The change was made after the United States Supreme Court ruled in Mahanoy Area School District v.BL (2021) that schools cannot fully limit off-campus speech.
The case featured a student who was suspended from her school’s cheer squad for making vulgar comments on Instagram about the school.
The ruling led Press Plus to recommend a “thorough factual analysis” of any off-campus violations, recommending that students be allowed to defend themselves so investigators can gather more facts before any discipline.
7:260 Physical Education Exemption
Students who fast for religious reasons will now be exempt from participating in physical education classes due to changes to policy 7:260.
The change comes in response to changes to the Illinois school code regarding the requirement for physical education classes.