School Discipline Policies
Examine the various discipline methods being put to use in public schools. From detention to expulsion, spanking to handcuffing, school discipline can often be controversial. Does spanking work? Do police belong in schools? Learn more about what is being done to punish out of control students.
View the most popular articles in School Discipline Policies:
- Dealing with Behavioral Issues in Middle and High School
- Schools Demand Students' Social Media Passwords
- Is Your Public School’s Zero Tolerance Policy Punishing Innocent Students?
- Students of Color Disproportionately Disciplined in Schools
- The Look of Public Schools Post-Newtown: More Armed Guards Greet Students
Recent legislation that allows Illinois public schools to demand students’ social media passwords has renewed the debate about students’ right to privacy at school.
It is a story that is all too often in the news: A child is subjected to torturous cyberbullying by his or her peers via social media. Threatening messages sent on Facebook, humiliating comments about their appearance on Twitter, and other such nonsense drives the student to lash out, possibly hurting themselves, their peers, or both.
Schools no doubt serve a protective function and are charged with ensuring students have access to a free, appropriate education in an environment that is safe, secure, and nurturing. To help achieve that end, some states are taking strong measures to bolster the authority and power of school districts with regard to investigating instances of bullying, even if such negative behaviors do not occur on school property or within the bounds of the school day.
The Illinois Law
In an attempt to curb cyberbullying behaviors, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law, enacted January 1st of this year, that allows public school districts to demand access to students’ personal social media accounts if the student is suspected of violating school rules.
A letter sent home to parents in Triad Community Schools in Illinois, obtained by Motherboard, outlines the new policy:
“School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking site contains
Research shows that students of color face a disproportionate number of disciplinary actions in U.S. public schools. Learn about these disparities, as well as the policies that fuel them. Also learn about suggested measures to address this problem.
According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office, widespread racial disparities exist in terms of how schoolchildren are punished. The longitudinal study looked at data from the past 15 years and found that minority students face a disproportional number of disciplinary actions in schools across the country, from those in affluent suburban neighborhoods to those in the poorest urban areas.
Graph from HechingerEd
These disparities have been known for some time in middle schools and high schools, however, this report reveals that unfair discipline procedures begin as early as preschool. The data, which was collected from 97,000 public schools from across the country, paints a troubling picture:
- Black and Latino students are consistently punished more severely than white students for the same infractions.
- Nearly 50 percent of preschool children who are suspended multiple times are black, yet black children represent less than one-fifth of the preschool population.
- Black students are far more likely to be referred to law enforcement or arrested for a school-based offense than white students or other students of color.
- Black girls are suspended at a much higher rate than girls of any other race.
- Students with disabilities, who represent only 12 percent of the public school population, account for almost 60 percent of students who are placed in seclusion.
Many students who are suspended or placed in involuntary seclusion are put there because of zero-tolerance policies that schools have put in place over the last two decades.
Students have headed back to school across the country, but are greeted by new security technology and armed security guards. We take a look at Post-Newtown public education.
As students head back to school this fall, things may look a little different in some locations. In the aftermath of the Newtown Elementary tragedy, many districts across the country are looking for ways to beef up security procedures to keep students and staff a little safer. In light of those efforts, students may be greeted by new security devices, safety measures and even armed guards at some schools.
Debates Over Best Security Options
The Courant reports that as schools weighed their options in new security procedures, debate over the best way to protect students and faculty ensued. Armed police guards are often the center of that debate, with some school officials in favor of the action and others opposed. Other issues that have been argued in recent months include arming school administrators and security personnel and allowing teachers to bring guns to school.
Carl Sferrazza, police chief for Enfield, Connecticut, is one who agrees armed guards are the best way to keep students safe. Sferrazza told the Courant, “These people are homicidal and suicidal individuals. Their intent and their planning is all geared toward killing as many people as they possibly can.”
However, others liken placing armed guards at the entrances of schools to creating a prison-like atmosphere for students. Nate Quesnel, superintendent for East Hartford, told the Courant, “We don’t necessarily believe that having an armed guard in front of a school is the most productive way to make a school safer, for a variety of
A number of cases have recently been introduced nationwide regarding the use of Facebook and public school staff and students. We’ll take a look at the latest situations and ask once again where the line between public school and social media should be drawn.
Social media has become a prevalent component of today’s society, shaping relationships on both a professional and personal level. Unfortunately, the advent of social websites did not come equipped with a handbook to guide users with ethical boundaries in use of the media outlets. Instead, this job has been a reactive one, left to whoever might see potentially offensive posts and take the necessary steps to discipline those responsible. In the case of students, that job is often taken on by the public school system – much to the chagrin of many who believe the line between public school and private life must remain strong and consistent.
According to a recent article at Eurasia Review, the age of the Internet is forcing many to reexamine constitutional liberties – primarily those protected under the First Amendment. Public schools have been flung directly into the fray, as they attempt to make the distinction between a student’s private life and the impact of the choices they make outside of school on the school environment overall. Currently, a number of questions have arisen over the use of social media by both students and teachers. Three cases in particular have forced public school officials, and even the court system, to take a second look at what constitutes “appropriate” behavior on social websites.
School Says No to Racy Photos, but Court Says Yes
The first case involves a group of teenage girls in Indiana who wanted to post photos of a slumber party on a Facebook
While zero tolerance policies were designed to keep public school students safe, are they unfairly punishing innocent students? Learn more about the debate and whether or not zero tolerance policies are effective for public schools.
In light of terrifying outbreaks of school violence, nearly all public schools have embraced a “zero tolerance policy” to deter students from malicious behavior. As the American Bar Association (ABA) describes, ‘“Zero tolerance’ is the phrase that describes America's response to student misbehavior. Zero tolerance means that a school will automatically and severely punish a student for a variety of infractions.” Common student infractions include carrying a weapon to school, engaging in threatening forms of physical or verbal behavior, and bullying other students.
However, does the zero tolerance policy work in public schools? The ABA argues that the zero tolerance approach has devastatingly turned into a “one size fits all solution” for problems that need more personal interpretation and subjective assessment. For example, misunderstandings and common minor infractions are penalized under the large umbrella of zero tolerance – leading to overreactions and potentially unjust punishments.
Subsequently, many parents and community members are questioning if other types of behavior policies would be more appropriate in keeping public school campuses safe.
What are Zero Tolerance Policies?
Zero tolerance policies are rules that specifically target the most serious risks facing the safety of students in public schools. For example, students who bring any weapon to school can be punished under the zero tolerance restrictions.
While these types of policies were intended to help create a more widespread environment of safety and awareness, many parents and teachers argue that innocent students are being unjustly punished. Specifically, students who are unintentionally and often unknowingly breaking the rules are punished severely under
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