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Illinois lawmaker pushes to eliminate zero-tolerance discipline in schools

Miami-Dade schools partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to launch violence prevention program
Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford's bill would require schools to consider other disciplinary options, such as counseling and extracurricular programs, before a student can be suspended more than three days.
Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford's bill would require schools to consider other disciplinary options, such as counseling and extracurricular programs, before a student can be suspended more than three days.

Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford sponsored a new state law that eliminates zero-tolerance discipline policies in schools.

Designed to reduce the number of days students are restricted from classrooms for certain offenses, the legislation requires schools to explore other disciplinary options, such as counseling and extracurricular programs, before a student can be suspended more than three days. For longer suspensions, schools must provide support services and the opportunity to make up missed assignments. 

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to launch “Know the Signs,” a districtwide violence prevention program, to help eliminate violence in Miami’s middle and high schools.

The program will train students to create inclusive communities and train administrators to identify the warning threats of violence, as well as teach students lifelong core skills that will help them identify at-risk individuals in school and within the community. 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has launched the Oklahoma Connect and Learn Initiative, an effort to bring high-speed internet to all public schools. The state is partnering with districts and telecommunications service providers to increase the number of schools with fiber optic connections, improve the capacity and affordability of connections, and ensure classrooms have Wi-Fi access. 

Beth Schiavino-Narvaez is the new chief of instructional leadership development with the U.S. Department of Defense Schools in Okinawa, Japan. The former superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut is working with three districts in the Pacific, including Korea, Japan and Guam, serving 23,000 students in 48 schools. She started her career as a Fulbright Scholar teaching in South Korea. 

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has launched XQ: The Super School Project, a $100 million initiative that provides $10 million to 10 high schools that foster “mind-blowing, groundbreaking ideas to rethink high school.” The initiative is funding a floating classroom to study coastal erosion in Louisiana and creating a Michigan museum-high school, for example.

Karen Garza is the new president and chief executive of Batelle for Kids, a nonprofit organization that supports K12 education by providing teacher development and leadership training.

Garza is former superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, where she established later start times for high school students, ended the system’s long-standing tradition of half-day Mondays for elementary school students, raised teacher salaries and reduced elementary class sizes. In her new position, she will develop national education policy.