(The Center Square) – Lawmakers have advanced a bill that would stop schools in Illinois from involving the police in issuing tickets to students for minor violations.
Illinois law prohibits schools from fining students as a form of discipline, but a number of schools have been referring students to police, who then ticket students for various school violations, such as vaping.
An analysis by ProPublica of 199 school districts found that ticketing occurred in at least 141 of them.
In some districts, tickets were issued to children as young as eight years old.
The investigation found that about 12,000 tickets were written to students over three school years.
Joe Larimer with the Debt Free Justice Coalition said some of the tickets can be as high as $450.
“Upon receiving tickets, students are required to attend a municipal hearing that does not guarantee the student any right to counsel and does not offer any expungement process, effectively stripping the youth and families of their right to due process, and leaving a lingering impact upon the student,” Larimer said.
The sponsor of House Bill 3412, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, said the school should be able to handle kids when they act up.
“It has been identified as disorderly conduct in a school where you have children being children, and now we’re labeling it disorderly conduct because the police are involved,” Ford said.
House Bill 3412 would prohibit school personnel from referring a student to the police for the purpose of them being issued a fine for an incident that can be pursued through the school district’s disciplinary consequences.
State Rep. Katie Stewart, D-Edwardsville, said she is worried the bill will limit the authority of school officials.
“I just worry that this is going to hamstring principals with real discipline problems in their schools,” Stuart said.
Ford said the measure does not prevent schools from calling the police on students who commit serious crimes.
It also would not limit a school’s ability from seeking restitution from students for lost, stolen or damaged property.
The bill advanced out of committee and is headed to the House floor.