Discipline is one of the greatest challenges that face today’s educators. Administrators and teachers must determine what types of discipline are effective and how to prevent student misconduct. Teachers and administrators must familiarize themselves with ethical and legal issues and requirements when developing and implanting disciplinary procedures. Getting to the Bottom of Discipline at Your Child’s School Most issues regarding the safety of students and discipline are addressed at the school level.
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The consequences that are given for misbehavior can vary widely from school to school, although there are some actions and behaviors that require mandatory expulsion. Schools are required to provide a written notice of the school rules and disciplinary procedures to both the students and the parents. It is the responsibility of the school board to establish school discipline rules that align with the state and federal laws. School boards are also responsible for adopting policies and regulation regarding bullying, sexual harassment and other student safety issues.
State law requires that the school district and county offices provide off site education services to students that are expelled. The Education Code requires that in certain situations, schools must report students to law enforcement agencies. This includes acts of violence towards school employees, possession and/or use of weapon, and possession of a controlled substance. (Great Schools Staff, 2012) IDEA’s Regulations on Discipline It is important that school administrators are aware of the educational and legal issues that are involved in managing the behavior of students who have disabilities.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines the steps that must be taken when disciplining students with disabilities. The IDEA ensures that all students with special needs are provided a free appropriate public education. IDEA requires that a team of professionals describe what must be provided to the student in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The student’s education and related services must be provided in the least restrictive environment possible.
The school must ensure that their policies and procedures regarding the discipline of students with disabilities are aligned with the IDEA’s regulations. Under the IDEA schools
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have the authority to consider unique circumstances when it comes to making decisions on how to discipline students with disabilities. If a school makes the decision to remove a student with disabilities from their educational placement parents must be notifies in writing the same day that the decision is made.
If the disciplinary action lasts ten school days or less the school is not required to provide special education services to the student during this time. For disciplinary actions lasting more than ten days the school is required by law to provide special education services to students which will allow the student to make adequate progress towards meeting the outlined goals and objectives of the students IEP. The IDEA also requires that schools ask and answer particular question to determine if the student’s misconduct is associated with their disability; it is no longer just assumed as it has been in the past.
This ensures that schools are following the correct procedures when it comes to the discipline of students with disabilities, and make more options available to the school regarding discipline. Because sometimes a student’s misconduct can be a result of their disability is important that that each situation is thoroughly evaluated before determining what steps to take regarding discipline. If the misconduct continues in most cases there will be an IEP meeting to develop a behavior modification plan for the student.
(“National dissemination center,”) Zero Tolerance and Alternative Strategies: A Fact Sheet for Educators and Policymakers Zero Tolerance policy can be defined as a policy that mandates a set of predetermined, typically severe, consequences or punishments, associated with extreme misconduct. Most often this policy addresses controlled substances, weapons, violence, and other forms of disruptions in an effort to protect students and maintain a safe and positive environment at school.
Although many teachers and administrators have found zero tolerance policies to be effective because the policy sends a clear and consistent message that particular behaviors will not be allowed at school, research indicates that there are also many negative results of the implantation of the zero tolerance policy such as increased student drop out. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) suggests that other discipline strategies that are proven to be more effective be implemented in today’s schools.
According to data from the U. S. Department of Education and the Center for Safe and Responsive Schools, 75% of schools currently have a zero tolerance policy in place for serious offenses of misconduct. Disciplinary actions that are mandated with the zero tolerance policy usually include the student being removed from their normal education setting; such as being suspended or expelled. The NASP also states that zero tolerance policies can be costly and in the long rum ineffective.
There can be negative results when removing a student from an educational setting and placing them in an environment where they may have limited supervision, if the misconduct does not pose a direct threat to students and administers. There are also legal and ethical dilemmas when it comes to the denial of education services to a student. There have been many legal actions taken against school district because parents believe that consequences did not fit the misconduct.
(“Zero tolerance and,” 2001) For instance an eighth grade honor roll student was expelled and sent to a four month boot camp for bringing a 20oz bottle of soda to school in which she mixed a very small amount of alcohol which violated the school’s zero tolerance policy for alcohol. (Rutherford, 2012) It is also believed that the policy may be enforced with bias and there is not any room for flexibility when it comes to making decisions.
The NASP recommends that schools put forth a greater effort to prevent these acts of misconduct, and utilize their mental health experts such as school psychologists, school counselors and community social workers. (“Zero tolerance and,” 2001) Although I agree that serious and dangerous acts of misconduct must be addressed with firm and consistent consequences; I also feel that many of the acts of misconduct addressed by the zero tolerance policy can be addressed more effectively with alternative forms of discipline.
I also feel that schools could work more effectively to prevent these behaviors by developing and implementing emotional and behavior intervention programs for students, violence prevention programs, and additional training for teachers and administrators. Benson Middle School Disciplinary Policy: Student Rights and Responsibilities The development of the policies and procedures of the Benson Unified School District (BUSD) are the responsibility of the superintendent of the school and the school board. The policies must be aligned with A. R. S. 15-843; Arizona’s pupil disciplinary proceedings.
The disciplinary policy of the BUSD states that students are entitled to enjoy all basic rights of citizenship that are recognized and protected by the state of Arizona and the United States. Students rights include, voicing opinion without fear of reprisal, receive a meaningful education and curriculum, and the opportunity to participate in school function and activities. Non- medical use, possession, or sale of drugs on school property is prohibited. If a student violates this policy they may be subject to removal from school property and be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
A student that has been determined to have threatened an educational institution will be expelled from school for a time period of at least on year. The district may modify this expulsion on a case by case basis, and may allow the student to return to an alternative educational setting should they feel that steps have been taken to rehabilitate the student’s misconduct. The school prohibits the possession of a weapon on school property. Any student who violates this policy will be removed from the school property for a period of not less than one year.
Disciplinary actions involving students with disabilities will be determined on a case by case basis. The disciplinary policy for minor infractions of misconduct is structured by a point system. Each infraction and various levels of misconduct earn different amounts of points. These points are accumulated throughout the year. After a student reaches a particular number of points they student risks losing privileges. The students may be placed in detention, in school suspension, out of school suspension, or in extreme cases expelled.
The student may lose the privilege to participate in school sponsored sports and other extracurricular activities. The school provides students with opportunities to reduce points such as completing all assigned work, or showing random acts of kindness. (Benson school: Student/parent, 2012) All of the disciplinary policies and procedures are provide to parents and students at the beginning of each school year. Both the parents and students are required to acknowledge that they have read and understand the information by signing and returning to school.
It is the responsibility of the students to ensure that take advantage of educational opportunities that are available to them, are respectful and follow school rules while on school property. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that their students are completing assigned classwork to their best of their ability, taking advantage of educational opportunities that are available to them, and reinforcing positive behaviors that will promote a positive learning experience for their student.
It is the responsibility of the teachers and administrators to ensure that they create a positive learning environment where all students feel safe and comfortable, they develop and implement preventative programs, and that all disciplinary policies and procedures are enforced. It is well know that a student’s leaning is negatively impacted in an environment that is poorly managed. Teachers must take the necessary steps to develop an environment that promotes consistency, respect and equality. As a teacher I will do my best to promote a learning environment where my students will feel safe and comfortable.
I will encourage the sharing of ideas, collaboration between students, and open communication. I will work to motivate and engage my students through lessons and curriculum that they will find interesting and are able to relate to. I will be an active participant in finding and developing solutions for student misbehavior, and will work with parents, students, administrators and the community to ensure that all of my students receive an equal opportunity to receive a meaningful education, and that my students take advantage of the educational opportunities that are available to them