Viewpoints: School suspension policy needs to change

Fix-School-Discipline-Toolkit-cover-image-290pxBilly Aydlett, principal of Leataata Floyd Elementary School in Sacramento looks at the options that teachers have in the classroom when a child is defiant. His recent piece in the Sacramento Bee can be read here.

“That student can take a cool-down break, then sit down later with the teacher to resolve it, with the support of other school staff and parents. He or she can be pulled out of class with an in-school suspension or sent home for a day or more. And in extreme cases, that student can be permanently expelled from school.

This wide variation often happens because of a provision of the California education code known as “willful defiance.” The law gives teachers and principals wide latitude to interpret and respond to student behavior, but little direction.”

More than 700,000 students were given out of school suspensions in California – nearly half of which were for ‘willful defiance.’ Aydlett supports Assembly Bill 420, which would limit the use of willful defiance as grounds for suspension and expulsion. It would also require the use of other discipline methods prior to suspension.

Aydlett’s work at Leatatta Floyd with Positive Behavior and Support (PBIS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL)┬áis highlighted in Fix School Discipline’s Toolkit, which you can read here.

Aydlett says, “We also started using research-based alternatives including “positive behavior intervention and supports” and “social and emotional learning,” which both get students to think about how their behavior affects themselves and their classmates, and also help introduce a positive school culture that emphasizes learning.”

Community members and teachers can download the Fix School Discipline Toolkit to make positive discipline changes in their schools.

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