Innovative Alternatives to Exclusionary Student Discipline

"Children cannot learn if they are not in the classroom," the American Federation of Teachers said in a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012. "Nor can they or their peers learn, or teachers teach, in a school environment that is not safe, stable and engaging. Too often both these situations occur as a result of inadequate resources, lack of training and the insufficient implementation of safe and responsive plans and procedures to address and respond to violent and disruptive behaviors. . . . [This] not only hurts the students who are suspended, but also has a direct impact on our entire community."

As our research has shown, too many of Georgia's most vulnerable children and communities are routinely hurt in this way. Our 2011 report, Effective Student Discipline: Keeping Kids in Class, revealed troubling patterns in the use of exclusionary discipline in Georgia's K-12 public school system, most commonly out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Compounding the negative effects on students and the community is their disproportionate impact on minority students and other marginalized groups. In Georgia, African American students were found to be three times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than other groups. Like states across the nation, Georgia must find better alternatives to their public schools' current discipline practices.

This project evaluated options for innovative alternatives and the resources needed to implement them in Georgia K-12 public schools. Some Georgia public schools have already adopted alternative discipline practices, offering promising models that keep kids in class and help transform the school-to-prison pipeline into a path from school to success. The results of this research are found in the Keeping Kids in Class Toolkit. Just click on the button labeled "Innovations and Best Practices."