Under criticism that minor misconduct in Chicago public schools is being met with overly severe punishment, school officials and Chicago police will stress combating gang activity near schools and improving communication with students, the Chicago Tribune reports. Police will station more officers near high schools that have higher-than-average gang activity. The school system wants to clarify its complex discipline code to reduce the number of student arrests on school property. More than 8,000 students were arrested in the 2004-2005 school year. Many of those arrests were unnecessary and occurred because some principals are too willing to call the police for minor infractions, officials said.
In clarifying the code, the school district will join with police and hold regular Community Area Policing meetings with parents and students. An independent report last year said schools were criminalizing typical youth misbehavior with a “take-no-prisoners” approach of suspension and arrest. The report found a racial component, with 75 percent of arrested students between 1999 and 2003 African-American, even though only 50 percent of the district’s enrollment is black. Despite the emphasis on improving communication and heightening police patrols, fewer guns are being confiscated in schools and violent incidents at schools are dropping.