This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Adapted from Beyond Suspensions: Safe & Orderly Schools that Educate All Students, by Milwaukee Catalyst, 2001.
Parents and community members support disciplining students who commit clear transgressions that disrupt learning or threaten school safety. Many take issue, however, with the great number of suspensions that do not seem warranted by minor infractions that could be avoided with an effective school discipline policy.
Suspensions have serious consequences for young people that extend far beyond lost days of learning. Even a single suspension can place a child on a dangerous path, labeling him or her as a troublemaker in school. There is also a large body of research to suggest that suspensions harm children academically, even pushing them out of school.
The frequent use of suspensions places blame on children, masking deficiencies in the academic program or classroom organization and management. Parents do not want their children sent home from school when teachers and administrators could be offering alternatives to keep them in the classroom where they belong.
The checklist below will help you understand your school’s approach to student discipline.
You can learn a lot about a school by watching how students behave in the halls or on the playground. See how they get along with teachers. See how teachers and staff treat each other. See if parents are welcome in the school. See how your school maintains discipline. Holding high expectations for students, teaching them well, and meeting their social needs minimizes discipline problems and helps children succeed.
Click this Adobe PDF to view parent’s school discipline checklist.