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Illinois General Assembly Passes Racism-Free Schools Law to Combat Discrimination within Illinois

OCKFORD, Ill. – The Illinois General Assembly passed the Racism Free Schools Act (SB 90) sponsored in the House by State Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford). The legislation requires school districts to create a policy on discrimination and harassment based on race, color, or national origin, as well as track incidents of discrimination within their districts. 

 

“Here in Illinois, we will not tolerate racism or discrimination within schools – period.” said Chief Sponsor Rep. Maurice West. “But as we continue to see a rise in incidents of hateful conduct across our country, it is clear that our actions need to match our words. That’s why the Racism-Free Schools Act is so important, because it will not only require districts to create and implement a policy on discrimination and harassment, but also help the state track incidents of racism so we can better address concerning conduct across our state. I want to thank Sen. Murphy for her partnership as well as the advocates who made their voices heard.”

 

“With hate and race-based crimes on the rise in schools, the Racism-Free Schools Act addresses a pressing need to keep students and teachers safe by making it easier for victims, student victims especially, to come forward and stop harassment,” said Bill Curtin, Teach Plus Illinois Policy Manager. “I’m grateful to Senator Murphy and Representative West for listening to teachers in our state who know schools are not yet doing enough to address acts of hate and calling for action to change that.”  

 

“When it comes to racial harassment, words are not enough. A concrete and meaningful policy response is needed to change behavior in our schools,” said Madeline Wood, Teach Plus Illinois Senior Policy Fellow who teaches music at United Junior High and United High School in Monmouth.

 

“As a student, I faced racial harassment every year. I became a mute - I stopped speaking because I didn’t think my voice mattered. Now, as a teacher, I’ve found my voice again to speak up for my students, who are still experiencing the same racial incidents that I did,” said Breana Calloway, Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow and 3rd Grade math and science teacher at Deneen School of Excellence in Chicago.

 

The legislation requires each school district, charter school, or nonpublic, nonsectarian elementary or secondary school to create and implement a policy on discrimination and harassment based on race, color, or national origin. The legislation also requires the Illinois State Board of Education to create a data collection system to report on allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against students.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Laura Murphy in the State Senate, passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 87 to 18 and the Illinois Senate by a vote of 53 to 0. The legislation now goes to Gov. JB Pritzker for his signature before being enacted into law. More information can be found HERE.

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