Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
While recognizing that suspension or expulsion of students is sometimes necessary, many groups, including educational leaders, are united in the belief that classroom time should be used for student learning and that school discipline should be imposed in a way that does not exclude students from school or limit their opportunity to learn. The reason for this is that studies have shown a relationship between suspending kids from school and serious educational, economic, and social problems, including decreased achievement, increased behavior problems, and increased likelihood of dropping out, use of substance abuse, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. According to Education Code §48900.5 “Suspension… shall be imposed only when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct”.
Suspensions are simply not effective at changing student behavior.
This does not mean that bad behavior should be ignored. It means that there are alternatives which have a better chance of actually changing student behavior in the long run. Sometimes it starts with prevention. Having a classroom behavior management system that is positive, fair, consistent, and understood by kids is a must, along with building a strong and positive relationship with students.
It’s also important to observe when and where the bad behavior occurs to look for patterns to address (such as, is it during or right after transitions between activities or classrooms? Can transition procedures be more consistent? Is it during or right after recess? Is there enough supervision during recess to prevent problems?) Is the student getting frustrated because they can’t do classroom work and are acting out because of it? Is there a way to accommodate that student’s learning needs such as more time to complete an assignment or a quieter space to work?
Other alternatives to address bad student behaviors are as follow:
- Have the student call his/her parent or guardian in front of the teacher or administrator to explain what happened, in order to take responsibility for their actions
- Use behavior reflection forms filled out by the student with a plan for correction or improvement
- Assign a research or writing assignment researching and addressing the harms created by the student’s actions
- Assign students to an activity that repairs the damage created (cleaning, helping the teacher, etc.)
- Hold a conference between school personnel, the student’s parent/guardian and student; invite parents to brainstorm ways they can provide closer supervision or be more involved in their child’s schooling
- Hold a student Study Team meeting to assess behavior, and develop individualized plans to address it in partnership with the student and his/her parent(s)
- Provide explicit behavior instruction – sometimes kids simply have never learned how to act appropriately to stressful situations, or how to treat classmates appropriately, and they need to be taught
- Give detention (after school) with time for the teacher and student to review alternative ways the student could behave in the classroom that would be more appropriate
- Have a regular adult/student check-in time to follow up on daily and weekly goals
- Participate in a restorative justice program (reconciliation with a victim, or teen court are some examples)