The school board and administration of Oak Park’s District 97 elementary schools doubled fully down last month as it committed to a three-year transition plan for student behavior. Middle-school teachers expressed alarm earlier this spring in a public survey about the immediate state of student behavior. But Supt. Carol Kelley and the full board stood up for its still nebulous plan to transform a failing and unfair discipline system that unduly targets students of color into one based on reinforcing positive behavior and restorative justice techniques. 

Earlier in May, when Percy Julian Middle School students, members of the new Social Justice Club, made their case to the school board, Kelley took their side. She said the district needed to stay focused on replacing a broken system of discipline and working with teachers to implement the changes. 

With newly hired Culture and Climate coaches ready to launch by fall, the district is going to need to demonstrate that its new approach is more than fairy dust, and veteran teachers will need to accept that this is a school district all in on racial equity and the elemental need to make discipline fair and effective. 

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