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News Around Illinois – December 11, 2019

Champaign Central High School
Champaign Central High School

Champaign ACLU, NAACP Call Out Lack Of Progress On Racial Equity In Unit 4 Schools

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign County chapters of both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) jointly sent a letter to the Champaign Community Unit School District 4 Board of Education and superintendent Susan Zola last week, highlighting a lack of access to gifted and advanced placement classes in the district for black students, as well as disparities in discipline and academic proficiency for black pupils, as compared to their white peers. Less than 10% of black students in Unit 4 schools are proficient in math and reading, compared to nearly 50% of white students, the letter states. White Unit 4 students are also more than seven times more likely to take AP classes than their black peers, according to federal data.

In their letter to the district, the groups urged school district officials to meet with them to specify how the district intends to address the disparities. A spokesperson for Unit 4 schools, John Lyday, wrote in an email that district officials plan to meet with the NAACP and ACLU members soon. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Illini Sell More Beer Than Expected At Home Football Games

URBANA – University of Illinois athletic officials say football fans have been thirstier than expected. The News-Gazette reports Memorial Stadium beer sales totaled roughly $488,000 at home games. When school officials announced plans earlier this year to sell beer, they predicted sales in the low six figures. Sales were strongest during three Big Ten football games: Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin. The lowest came during a sparsely attended loss to Northwestern two days after Thanksgiving. Campus police say fan arrest and ejection statistics have been consistent with previous years. Officials say revenue will be split between the university’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and Spectra, which provides concessions for athletic events. – Associated Press

Proposed Illinois School Rules Would Ban Secluded Timeouts

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education has submitted its proposed rules for how schools can restrain students who exhibit dangerous behavior. The rules filed Tuesday seek to protect children and faculty from outbursts but ban the use of prone restraints except as a last resort and the practice of locking such students in timeout rooms all by themselves. The rules were drafted in response to a report last month by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica that found that public schools were misusing timeout rooms. They will be open to public comment until Feb. 4. – Associated Press

Ex-Assistant Pastor Of Illinois Church Accused Of Sex Crimes

URBANA — A former assistant pastor of an Illinois church has been accused of sexually assaulting a teenager in the congregation. The News-Gazette reports 48-year-old Roger VanRaden was arraigned Monday on sexual assault and abuse charges in a Champaign County courtroom. He was released from jail after posting bond and ordered back to court Jan. 21. The Associated Press left a message for a public defender assigned to his case. Prosecutors say the charges stem from contact he had with the girl from about 2015 to August of this year. Investigators say most of the incidents happened at Faith Baptist Church in Champaign. – Associated Press

Illinois Approves 2 More Marijuana Cultivation Centers


Picture of Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director for the Illinois Newsroom. He started at WILL in October of 2019 after serving as News Director for WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan. Previously, he was a news producer and manager at the NBC station in Dallas, where he won 7 Emmy awards. Born in Vietnam, Reginald is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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