Suspension reductions urged
by BRIAN NADIG
Possible changes in the student discipline code and a wider selection of items in the lunchroom are among the issues which were discussed at the June 7 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council.
The meeting also was the last LSC meeting for Taft principal Dr. Arthur Tarvardian, who is retiring after 13 years in the position. Taft assistant principal Mary Kay Cappitelli will be installed as the new principal when the council holds its annual organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 12.
It was reported at the meeting that the Chicago Public Schools is requiring schools to reduce the number of students that they suspend. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who once served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, recently expressed concern about what he called a disproportionate number of African-American students being suspended in Chicago and in other school systems.
LSC chairman Ted Pirpiris said after the meeting that schools are waiting for the school system to issue directives on how they should reduce the number of suspensions. Pirpiris said that the initiative likely will be designed to keep students in the classroom as much as possible.
Tarvardian said that he suspects that the discipline code will be rewritten so that fewer infractions are eligible for suspension. Taft administrators have complained that while students can be suspended, it has become very difficult to expel a student, including a recent incident in which a student was suspected of selling drugs.
“I don’t know how many have been suspended, but I’ve never been too concerned by the number of students who have been suspended or been put out,” Tarvardian said. About a year ago Taft was asked to reduce its suspensions, but the school system official refused to put his request in writing, Tarvardian said.
It also was reported that Taft is one of the top two schools in the city when it comes to the number of purchased lunch items, not including meals which are served under the free and reduced-cost lunch program. Students recently got to sample some new entrees, including chicken wings and a vegetable burger which may be served at Taft this fall.
Meanwhile, LSC and Taft Parent Teacher Student Association representatives recently attended a meeting that Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard held at the Edgebrook Library for Northwest Side schools.
“He believes we have enough of the special enrollment, magnet schools,” Pirpiris said. “He wants to pay special attention to neighborhood schools, and that fits in with our plan.”
Also at the meeting, the council paid tribute to Tarvardian, who will retire June 30. “We’ll definitely miss him,” Pirpiris said. “He’s made so much of a difference in kids’ lives.”
Pirpiris said that Tarvardian succeeded in making sure that Taft’s teachers and students had the resources, such as access to computers and funds for field trips, they needed to succeed.