Discipline in Schools

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Colorado School Safety Resource Center Created Discipline Materials

Examples of Restorative Justice Actions in Schools, created July 2013

Other Discipline Materials

Breaking Schools' Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students' Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

  • Published July 2011 by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute, Texas A&M University
  • This report outlines the findings of a study of Texas students. Among other findings, the study determined that nearly six in ten public school students were suspended or expelled at least once between their seventh- and twelfth-grade school years. Students who were suspended or expelled, particularly those who were repeatedly disciplined, were more likely to be held back a grade or to drop out than were students not involved in the disciplinary system. The study also found that when a student was suspended or expelled, his or her likelihood of being involved in the juvenile justice system the subsequent year increased significantly.

Colorado House Bill 12-1345 / Senate Bill 12-046 – School Finance and School Discipline

  • The content of SB12-046 became an amendment to the School Finance Act (HB12-1345) on the last day of the 2012 Colorado legislative session.  Governor Hickenlooper signed this bill into law on May 19, 2012.
  • The general assembly declared that “zero-tolerance” policies have resulted in unnecessary expulsions, suspensions, and law enforcement referrals.  This bill was an effort to allow school administrators and local boards to use their discretion to determine appropriate disciplinary response to each incident with policies that apply equally to all students.
  • At a Glance Notes on HB 12-1345 / SB 12-046, created by CSSRC
  • Criminal Justice Contacts with Students Data Collection
    • Included in HB12-1345 are mandates for both law enforcement and district attorneys to collect data on criminal justice contacts with students and report those data annually to the Division of Criminal Justice by August 1. Data collection requirements for law enforcement can be found in C.R.S. 22-32-146 and for District Attorneys in C.R.S. 20-1-113.
    • To facilitate and standardize this data collection, DCJ has developed spreadsheet templates.  The use of the spreadsheet templates is strictly voluntary.  DCJ will accept the reporting of the data in any electronic format.

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado School Violence Prevention and Student Discipline Manual

  • The School Violence Prevention and Student Discipline Manual is prepared by the Colorado Attorney General's Office and distributed to schools in cooperation with the Colorado School Safety Resource Center and the CU Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. The manual addresses the legal issues surrounding reporting, search and seizure, disciplinary actions, and school policies. The manual was updated in October, 2018.

Creative Discipline & Alternatives to Suspension

  • Created by Nate Thompson of Littleton Public Schools and the Colorado School Safety Resource Center Alternative Discipline Work Group, May 2013.
  • Contains examples of discipline strategies to use in schools.

Evidence-based Program Registries

Fix School Discipline: How We Can Fix School Discipline Toolkit

  • Published in 2012 by Public Counsel, of California
  • This toolkit outlines problems with school discipline, describes alternative discipline approaches, and provides case studies of schools where alternative approaches are being successfully implemented.
  • While the toolkit was created in and for schools in California, the practices can be implemented in Colorado schools.
  • Fix School Discipline website

A Generation Later: What We've Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools

  • Published December 2013 by the Vera Institute of Justice
  • Vera’s Center on Youth Justice looks at existing research about whether zero tolerance discipline policies make schools more orderly or safe, if out-of-school suspension or expulsion leads to greater involvement in the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, and what effect these policies can have on a young person’s future. It concludes that, a generation after the rise of these policies and practices, neither schools nor young people have benefited. Fortunately, as described in the report, promising alternatives to zero tolerance can safely keep young people where they belong—in school.
  • Status Offense Reform Center

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

  • Youth Focused Policing Agency Self-Assessment Tool This online resource will help law enforcement agencies identify best practice responses to youth crime, delinquency, re-offending, and victimization. The brief provides an overview of adolescent brain development, impact on youth/police communications, strategies to improve law enforcement interactions with youth, and tips to foster positive youth development. 
  • Law Enforcement's Leadership Role in Juvenile Justice Reform: Actionable Recommendations for Practice & Policy

    • Released July 2014 by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
    • Featuring Denver’s Intergovernmental Agreement on School Discipline: Collaboration among the Police, School System & Community
    • Police officers are usually the first contact that young people have with the juvenile justice system. And yet in many communities, law enforcement leaders have not been part of the discussion on juvenile justice reform and the development of policies and practices addressing youth. Sometimes it is because they may not see their agency as part of the juvenile justice system. However, it is often because others in the community working with young people—schools, service providers, legal professionals and others—have not embraced their involvement. The National Summit on Law Enforcement Leadership in Juvenile Justice was designed as a way to bridge that divide. This report summarizes the findings of the summit.

The IRIS Center

  • Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the IRIS Center is headquartered at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Our primary objective is to create and infuse resources about evidence-based practices into preservice preparation and professional development programs. To facilitate this process, IRIS disseminates and offers trainings on those resources.
  • Behavior and Classroom Management resources
  • He Just Needs a Little Discipline, Case Based Learning Activity

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, Promote Prevent

  • The National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention (National Center) provides training and technical assistance (TA) to Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) and Project LAUNCH grantees. The mission of the National Center is to strengthen grantees’ capacity in achieving their goals by offering services to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of their work.

National Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

National Standards for the Care of Youth Charged with Status Offenses 

  • Published in December 2013 by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ)
  • This report offers concrete policy and practice recommendations for avoiding or limiting court involvement for youth charged with non-delinquent offenses. A status offense is conduct that would not be a crime if committed by an adult (e.g. truancy, running away, violating curfew laws, or possessing alcohol or tobacco).
  • The National Standards call for an end to all secure detention for these young people. Research shows that status offense behaviors are often the result of unmet child and family needs, and that pushing these youth into the juvenile justice system worsens individual and community outcomes. The National Standards promote system reform and changes in system culture, and the adoption and implementation of research-supported policies, programs, and practices that effectively meet the needs of youth, their families, and the community without unwarranted justice system involvement.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

Padres y Jovenes Unidos (Parents and Youth United)

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) 

  • The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) supports the use of PBIS for Colorado Schools.  The mission of the Colorado Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Initiative is to establish and maintain effective school environments that maximize academic achievement and behavioral competence of all learners in Colorado.

Restorative Justice Colorado

  • In partnership with the Colorado Restorative Justice Council, and supported by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, this site offers information not only on restorative justice in general, but also strategies, resources, and case studies specifically for schools.

The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System

  • Published by the Council of State Governments Justice Center as a component of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, May 2014
  • This is a comprehensive report providing school leaders and state and local government officials more than 60 recommendations for overhauling their approach to school discipline. The recommendations focus on improving conditions for learning for all students and staff, strengthening responses to student’s behavioral health needs, tailoring school-police partnerships, and minimizing students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system.
  • The report reflects a consensus among a wide collection of leaders in the areas of education, health, law enforcement, and juvenile justice, establishing the strategies necessary to reduce the number of youth suspended from school while providing learning conditions that help all students succeed.

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Guide

  • Guidance from the Colorado Department of Education on reporting sexual misconduct in schools per the Safe Schools Act. 

Status Offense Reform Center (SORC)

  • Launched in December 2013, the Status Offense Reform Center (SORC) aims to help policymakers and practitioners create effective, community-based responses for keeping young people who commit status offenses out of the juvenile justice system and safely in their homes and communities. The Center provides tools and information to help guide system change and foster an active community of practice.
  • SORC is a project of the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice and is supported by funding provided through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as part of its Models for Change Resource Center Partnership.
  • From Courts to Communities: The Right Response to Truancy, Running Away, and Other Status Offenses
    • Published December 2013

Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series

  • Continuing the efforts of the Federal Supportive School Discipline Initiative, the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services are pleased to announce the Supportive School Discipline (SSD) Webinar Series. The Series is designed to increase awareness and understanding of school disciplinary practices that push youth out of school and many times into the justice system, and provide practical examples of alternative approaches that maintain school safety while ensuring academic engagement and success for all students.
  • Addressing Truancy: Innovative Approaches to Systematically Increasing Attendance and Reducing Chronic Truancy
    • After years of study, the research is clear: (1) The impact of truancy on students, schools, communities and society is profound and (2) It is critical to take a multi-faceted approach to prevent and reduce truancy. This webinar will feature positive and collaborative approaches to addressing truancy. Specifically, it will showcase characteristics of effective truancy prevention and intervention programs that have encouraged students to attend school consistently and take increased ownership in their education.
  • Alternatives to Traditional School Discipline: The Multi-Tiered Behavioral Health Prevention Framework
    • This archived webinar will focus on how the use of discretionary discipline practices focused on prevention and early intervention can transform schools into supportive learning environments for all students. Presenters will describe the multi-tiered behavioral health prevention framework and share community examples of how schools and secure care facilities are applying the framework to create more supportive discipline policies and practices.
  • At the Intersection of School Safety and Supportive Discipline: Navigating the Roles and Responsibilities of School Resource Officers
    • Leading up to the most recent school tragedy and the subsequent call for increasing the number of school resource officers (SROs), growing evidence indicates the need for (1) improved school climate and (2) supportive school discipline policies and practices. It is critical, then, that we take what the field has learned and apply it to the development of high quality partnerships between SROs and America’s schools via thoughtful planning, training and practice.
  • Making the Case for Positive Approaches to Discipline
    • This archived webinar will examine the impact of punitive and exclusionary school discipline approaches and identify traditional school discipline practices that are known to be ineffective. It will also showcase community examples of positive alternatives to school discipline that reduce student alienation, increase student engagement, and decrease justice system involvement.
  • Stemming the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Applying Restorative Justice Principles to School Discipline Practices
    • This Webinar provided the knowledge that school, district, residential facility, and court staff; law enforcement and legal personnel; youth; families; and other community stakeholders need to better understand how restorative justice principles, when applied to school discipline practices, can stem the school-to-prison pipeline. With the potential of teaching conflict resolution skills, fostering understanding and empathy, and building stronger relationships in schools and communities, restorative justice has proven to be an effective alternative to punitive and exclusionary responses to problem student behavior.
  • Transforming School Climate Through Trauma Informed Practices
    • This Webinar will provide the knowledge that school, district, and court staff, law enforcement and legal personnel, youth, families, and other community stakeholders need to better understand the impact of exposure to trauma on youth behavior, how some discipline responses can traumatize or re-traumatize youth, and trauma-informed alternatives. In addition, the behavioral impact of trauma on youth with disabilities will be explained. By better understanding the impact of trauma, and the inter-relationship of trauma and disability, schools can use discipline practices that support students, foster their success, and keep them out of the justice system.
  • Using Youth Courts as a Supportive School Discipline Practice
    • The webinar will provide the knowledge participants need to better understand how the use of youth courts in schools can ensure offender accountability while offering fair and restorative consequences for discipline infractions. By directing lower level cases away from the formal justice system, youth courts can be an integral part of a school’s supportive disciplinary process, serving as an alternative to traditional disciplinary measures such as suspension and detention.

U.S. Department of Education


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