OPRF briefs
African-American students at Oak Park and River Forest High School continue to be disproportionately represented in discipline cases, according to figures released by the school last week.

Of the 376 students disciplined in the first semester of this school year, 91 out-of-school suspensions were handed out to 63 students. Of the those 91, 11 received 10-day suspensions while six students were expelled.

African-American students represented 203, or 54 percent, of all discipline cases. White students made up 129, or 43 percent, of discipline cases, while 44 students, or 12 percent, were of another ethnicity.

In the 2004-05 school year, black students represented 48 percent of discipline cases.

Blacks represent 25 percent of OPRF’s total population and roughly half of students receiving discipline.

The numbers were released last week and presented to the Oak Park and River Forest Dist. 200 Board of Education at its Thursday meeting.

The top infraction remains students failing to serve detentions and truancy, prompting board President John Rigas to ask what efforts were made to contact parents.

“I think communication is really critical for all of the issues here, not only for discipline but also achievement,” said Rigas.

Teachers do call parents to alert them of their kids’ detentions, said OPRF Dean of Discipline Amy Razzino, who noted that students will gave phony numbers or try to intercept calls before they reach parents. The school’s automated phone system, which calls homes when students are truant or absent, has worked to keep parents informed, she said.

The school has no policy mandating teachers to call home every time a student is given a suspension or other consequence.

“Teachers do make the effort to call home and students are encouraged to share that information with their parents,” said Razzino.

OPRF supports D90 referendum

The Oak Park and River Forest District 200 Board of Education last Thursday unanimously approved a resolution in support of River Forest Elementary School District 90’s property tax referendum on the March 21 ballot.

Board member Jacques Conway was absent at Thursday’s meeting, but board president John Rigas noted his and Conway’s support.

“I’m in favor of it as a resident of District 90,” said Rigas.

River Forest Dist. 90 board President David Greg along with Sue Foran, co-chair of Preserve River Forest Schools, attended Thursday’s meeting, asking for the board’s support.

If passed, Dist. 90’s referendum would raise the tax rate assessed on residential properties to $3.27 per $100 of equalized assessed value, up 27.5 cents from the previous rate of $2.995.

Union chief defends educators

In response to what he called “outrageous attacks from the school’s parent critics,” Faculty Senate President Jim Hunter called on the board to reexamine its policy for visitors’ comments concerning personnel matters.

The response was triggered by public comments made at the meeting by OPRF parents Scott Berman and Terry Burke, vocal critics of the school’s special education department who frequently speak during public comment at monthly school board meetings. Both spoke at Thursday’s meeting, criticizing and calling administrators by name.

“The attacks on our credibility?#34;whether it be profession or on our curriculum?#34;is just not acceptable,” said a visibly angered Hunter.

Hunter suggested that those who attack personnel by name not be allowed to continue with comments.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “This is an outstanding educational institution that provides services for all levels of students. The attacks on the certified personnel and upon the board and upon the administration are totally unacceptable. Each month we listen to this over and over again. And yet these same people who come to the board meeting and paint such a horrible picture of the faculty, walk the halls, dine in the dinning room and they’re never treated poorly by anyone. I am tired of people coming to the board meeting and impugning the reputation of this faculty, the board and the administration of this high school.”

?#34;Terry Dean

A special board meeting will take place Thursday, March 9, at Oak Park and River Forest High School’s third-floor library at 7:30 p.m. concerning the installation of lights in the OPRF Stadium. The board has hosted public hearings on proposed stadium lights since last fall. OPRF is located at 201 N. Scoville Ave.

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