Rethinking Discipline

As school leaders consider ways to improve school climate, they often begin to rethink discipline policies and practices. Suspension and other exclusionary discipline policies that many people once thought would solve problems in school sometimes do more harm than good. Studies show that such policies and practices can have several negative effects on students, including decreased academic achievement and increased behavior problems. In addition, data also shows that suspension and other exclusionary discipline policies disproportionately affect minority students.

Given those negative outcomes, educators have been looking for alternatives. Educators and school leaders are interested in comprehensive whole-school approaches to improve school climate. Two approaches, in particular, are cited as alternatives to suspension and expulsion. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as described on Minnesota’s PBIS website and Restorative Practices (RP). Both are whole-school or school-wide in scope. Both constitute a paradigm shift away from punishment to teaching and recognizing positive behavior expectations in the former, and building community and repairing relationships in the latter.

A variety of resources and tools related to discipline practices and policies are available and the department offers schools technical assistance in these areas.
  •  - 2/2/17
    Compilation of parental rights topics with links to relevant state statutes and rules.
  • Pupil Fair Dismissal Act (PFDA) - 8/29/16
    This is a copy of Minnesota Statutes, sections 121A.40 to 121A.56. The PFDA sets out the procedures that districts must follow when suspending or expelling/excluding a student from school. Minnesota law provides that among other things, “a copy of sections 121A.40 to 121A.56, shall be personally served upon the pupil at or before the time the suspension is to take effect, and upon the pupil's parent or guardian by mail within 48 hours of the conference.” Minn. Stat. § 121A.46, subd. 3. School districts may choose to reproduce the statutes in alternative formats.
  •  - 5/19/16
  • Discipline Definitions and the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act - Hmong - 12/9/13
  •  - 12/2/13
    A basic explanation of the public school district discipline process and the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act’s relation to that process.