Teachers and students deserve school environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to teaching and learning. Creating a supportive school climate—and decreasing suspensions and expulsions—requires close attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all students.
Administrators, educators, students, parents and community members can find on this site tools, data and resources to:
Increase their awareness of the prevalence, impact, and legal implications of suspension and expulsion;
Find basic information and resources on effective alternatives; and
Join a national conversation on how to effectively create positive school climates.
NEW Legal Limitations on the Use of Restraint or Seclusion in Schools
The U.S. Department of Education released guidance to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. The Dear Colleague Letter and Fact Sheet: Restraint and Seclusion of Students with Disabilities released today offers additional information about the legal limitations on use of restraint or seclusion to assist school districts in meeting their obligations to students with disabilities. The Department’s May 15, 2012, Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document suggested best practices to prevent the use of restraint or seclusion, recommending that school districts never use physical restraint or seclusion for disciplinary purposes and never use mechanical restraint, and that trained school officials use physical restraint or seclusion only if a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.
For more details, please read the press release.
NEW Improving Equity Under IDEA
The U.S. Department of Education published, in the Federal Register, the final regulations to improve equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and to address widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities.
- Final Regulations: HTML | PDF (587KB)
- Fact Sheet: Equity in IDEA
- OSERS' Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funds Technical Assistance (TA) centers that provide support to states on issues related to disproportionality and equity in education, which can be accessed at: https://www.osepideasthatwork.org/federal-resources-stakeholders/disproportionality-and-equity
- Dear Colleague Letter: Preventing Racial Discrimination in Special Education (PDF, 449KB)
New White House Report: The Continuing Need To Rethink Discipline
The White House released a new capstone report with updates about projects launched and local progress made in response to the Administration's Rethink Discipline efforts. Rethink Discipline was launched as part of President Barack Obama's My Brothers' Keeper initiative and aims to support all students and promote a welcome and safe climate in schools. The full report is available here:
The Continuing Need to Rethink Discipline (PDF, 885KB)
New Letter to States Calling for an End to Corporal Punishment in Schools
U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., released a letter urging state leaders to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice repeatedly linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students.
Open Letter from Civil Rights, Education, Medical and Research Groups on the Elimination of Corporal Punishment in Schools
This open letter from civil rights, education, medical and research groups urges state leaders to end the use of corporal punishment in schools, a practice repeatedly linked to harmful short-term and long-term outcomes for students.
Full-Res Version (PNG, 4032x3168, 3.7MB)
Data Table (Excel, 555KB)
Guidance Package Addresses the Behavioral Needs of Students with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance to Schools on Ensuring Equity and Providing Behavioral Supports to Students with Disabilities
Dear Colleague Letter on the Inclusion of Behavioral Supports in Individualized Education Programs
The Department has released a significant guidance document in the form of a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need them. It also clarifies that the repeated use of disciplinary actions may suggest that many children with disabilities may not be receiving appropriate behavioral interventions and supports.
Download the Dear Colleague Letter (PDF, 493KB)
OSERS Blog: Moment to Moment and Year to Year: Preventing Contemporary Problem Behavior in Schools
Effective education faces many challenges: chronic absenteeism, dropout, diversity inequities, antisocial conduct and violence, emotional and behavioral disorders, suspensions and expulsions. The authors suggest that the solution emphasize the adoption of a two-prong prevention approach that considers informed decision making, selection of evidence-based practices, and implementation of culturally relevant tiered systems of support. Read more on the OSERS Blog.
Discipline Resources: Accelerating Positive School Culture and Discipline Practices through the Charter Sector
The National Charter School Resource Center (NCSRC) is dedicated to helping charter schools reach their aspirations and furthering understanding of the charter schools. To meet those goals, NCSRC offers a diverse selection of objective resources on every aspect of the charter school sector. Their suite of discipline resources is helping educators create stronger school communities by adopting creative strategies that reimagine the role of discipline in their schools and to support initiatives that build positive school climates and develop less punitive approaches to school discipline.
Suspension impacts everyone
In 2011-2012, 3.45 million students were suspended out-of-school.
(Civil Rights Data Collection, 2011-2012)
Of the school districts with children participating in preschool programs, 6% reported suspending out of school at least one preschool child.
(Civil Rights Data Collection, 2011-2012)
Students with disabilities and students of color are generally suspended and expelled at higher rates than their peers.
(Civil Rights Data Collection,2011-2012)
Suspensions don't work—for schools, teachers, or students
Evidence does not show that discipline practices that remove students from instruction—such as suspensions and expulsions—help to improve either student behavior or school climate.
(Skiba, Shure, Middelberg & Baker, 2011)
Suspensions have negative consequences
Suspensions are associated with negative student outcomes such as lower academic performance, higher rates of dropout, failures to graduate on time, decreased academic engagement, and future disciplinary exclusion.
(Achilles, McLaughlin, Croninger,2007; Arcia, 2006; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2005; Costenbader & Markson, 1998; Lee, Cornell, Gregory, & Fan, 2011; Raffaele-Mendez, 2003; Rodney et al., 1999; Skiba & Peterson, 1999)
There are effective alternatives to suspension
Evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), can help improve overall school climate and safety.
(Bradshaw, C., Koth, C.W., Thornton, L.A., & Leaf, P.J., 2009)
Interventions, school-wide and individual, that use proactive, preventative approaches, address the underlying cause or purpose of the behavior, and reinforce positive behaviors, have been associated with increases in academic engagement, academic achievement, and reductions in suspensions and school dropouts.
(American Psychological Association, 2008; Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2005; Crone & Hawken, 2010; Liaupsin, Umbreit, Ferro, Urso, & Upreti, 2006; Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005; Putnam, Horner, & Algozzine, 2006; Skiba & Sprague, 2008; Theriot, Craun, & Dupper, 2010)