ETHS Discipline report shows increase in drug offenses, continued racial disparities


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Evanston Township High School, 1600 Dodge Ave. Evanston Township High School District 202 released its school discipline report for 2018-2019.

Samantha Handler, City Editor

A report from Evanston Township High School District 202 showed the number of drug-related offenses increased by 75 percent this year and that black students are still disproportionately disciplined compared to white students.

At an Oct. 7 board meeting, Keith Robinson — ETHS associate principal for educational services — said this semester marked a decrease of 9 percentage points in overall suspensions, and a 44 percent decrease in students receiving one or more suspensions.Still, the report showed that the number of discipline actions taken for both drug and unauthorized presence offenses increased between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

Drug offenses increased by 75 percent, — from 340 offenses to 595 — and unauthorized presence offenses increased by 47 percent — from 594 to 871.

Robinson said the increase in drug offenses is primarily due to students using e-cigarettes/JUULs, though he did not have specific numbers for e-cigarette usage among ETHS students. He said that going forward, the school has formed subgroups to look into creating evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs for students using e-cigarettes.

“With all the news and concerns about e-cigarettes, we are identifying and looking and assessing the use here at ETHS,” Robinson said, “and we’re looking at more ways to better provide intervention and educational opportunities for students as well.”

Robinson also emphasized that the district is continuing its focus on improving black male student achievement and decreasing the disproportionality of discipline numbers.

Over the past four years, the total number of discipline incidents for black males in the first semester has decreased by 44 percent. According to the report, the categories that saw the greatest decrease in incidents were disruptive acts, tardiness/detention, defiance of authority and harassment/bullying.

“We’ve decreased significantly in the last couple of years but one of the things we’ve been looking at, moving forward, is what is — when you talk about the subjective portions of the discipline actions — what is a disruptive act? What is a defiance of authority?” Robinson said. “These are truly subjective.”

Black students still had the highest percentage of suspensions, 54 percent, though they make up just 27 percent of the ETHS student body. About 14 percent of suspensions were given to white students, who make up about 46 percent of ETHS. Since 2009, the percent of black students suspended has decreased by about 15 percent — from 31 percent in 2009-2010 to 15 percent in 2018-2019.

Of total discipline-related actions in 2018-2019, about 48 percent involved black students while 23 percent involved white students. Additionally, 23 percent involved Latinx students, who make up about 19 percent of ETHS.

Board member Jude Laude said while the district has improved, more needs to be done. He suggested that the district create a task force with Evanston/Skokie School District 65 to address the issue. He said as a father of three black sons, he has had to advocate when he saw unfair treatment.

“As a black man, this really saddens me to see the disproportionality of these numbers,” Laude said. It is unacceptable.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sn_handler