ISS hinders Academic Success

Jessica Nunez, Editor-in-Chief

For five years, parents and students have complained about the ISS procedure taking away from academic class time at Joliet West. Many parents and students wonder why detentions and suspensions aren’t taken place after school. After all, shouldn’t class time be reserved for learning?

“It is a concern; we do want students in the classroom,” Mr. Hallihan, Assistant Principal, said “however, the philosophy of ISS is to address behavior immediately so students can go back to class.”

Mrs. Wooten, PPS Coordinator, admits to receiving many parent complaints regarding the ISS procedure. Wooten says she has to reassure parents that it is the student’s behavior that landed them in ISS in the first place. “Yes, [ISS takes away from academic class time] for students who aren’t learning,” Wooten said. However, she also notes that ISS does not take away from academic class time for those with a behavior problem. If one student disrupts a class of 30, placing that student in ISS will help the 29 other students learn without that disruption. But not every student in ISS is there because they disrupted a classroom.

 “They want us to do good in school, but how can we if they’re always sending us to ISS,” Angela Ortiz, junior, said. Ortiz admits to serving ISS at least ten times since freshmen year and that most of her time was served due to skipping classes, not disrupting a classroom.

Serving ISS for any Joliet West student consists of missing out on academic class time. If they are expected to serve for one period, four periods, or even a full day, they will most likely miss out on something important. “Some students misbehave but they are still academically responsible. Whenever I serve ISS I feel really left behind in Math and it’s even worse if we’re doing a project in one of my classes. When homework is due for classes that I’m in ISS for, I still want to be responsible so I run between classes to get them turned in.” Ortiz said.

For students who want to avoid an academic class, ISS may seem like the solution. When asked if students manipulate the system, Hallihan and Wooten admitted that they couldn’t claim any truth to this assumption, however, if the deans notice a pattern of ISS in any one student, they would try to find another punishment. What that exact punishment was, however, was never clearly stated. Wouldn’t the solution to most of this confusion then be to have after school detentions?

 “Five or six years ago, the district adopted a new policy. We had after school detentions before that,” Hallihan said. The problem with these after school detention was scheduling. Parents had to be notified when students would be serving after school detention and transportation was also an issue so the steps of discipline were never immediate. Wooten noted that since our new policy took effect, the behavioral problems of students have decreased dramatically.

Although ISS appears to be effective, how many students would behave if there were after school detentions? What if the school set up a new policy as Plainfield South has, Saturday school? Linda Lozano, sophomore, has served ISS at least five times since freshmen year and agrees that the policy would be more effective. “It would definitely make me not want to get in trouble ever again,” Lozano said.

Although an after school detention wouldn’t be immediate, all Joliet West students would learn to do one thing: come to school to sit in a desk, in a classroom, to learn. As every new school year approaches freshmen are encouraged to get on board with the academies, juniors are pestered on and on about standardized testing, and teachers are encouraged to follow the district goals. But how can any of this happen when behavior is put first? What are parents supposed to do if their student is constantly sitting in ISS for ditching a class, having their cell phone or an electronic device on them, not dressing for P.E. or ROTC, or most importantly, but not the most common, disrupting a classroom?           

 When the Illinois State Board of Education was asked this question, they had this to say: “The district has authority over their discipline system. Whatever’s taking place inside the school regarding this issue is up to the district.      

Isn’t this the same Illinois State Board of Education who encourages us to meet and exceed ACT and PSAE tests?       

“What it’s going to take to replace this policy is getting the parents of West students together to step up for what’s right for our students,” said one concerned Joliet West parent.