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The movement away from harsh discipline policies and toward positive discipline and accountability approaches is aimed at keeping children in school.

Resources on Closing the School Discipline Gap

Legislative History on Alternative Discipline in California: 

  • In 2013, the Legislature passed AB 420, which prohibited willful defiance suspensions statewide for grades K-3 until July 2018.
  • The ban on K-3 suspensions was made permanent in a 2018-19 budget trailer bill. 
  • SB 419 now extends the existing ban on willful defiance suspensions to grades 4 and 5 statewide, with the prohibition on such suspensions for grades 6 through 8, sunsetting in five years. Source
A Tale of Two Schools Carlos has a heated argument with his parents before leaving for school, so he’s running late. Let’s see the difference that restorative politics and practices can make. Carlos Arrives at School Restorative Practices-Based Education System: Teachers and administrators welcome him and his fellow students as they enter Zero-Tolerance Education System: He is greeted by metal detectors and a police search Carlos is late to first period class Restorative Practices-Based Education System: his teacher waits until after class to speak with Carlos to learn more, and sets up a meeting with his school counselor. Zero-Tolerance Education System: His teacher scolds him in front of the class. Carlos talks back and is given detention. Carlos gets into a minor altercation in the cafeteria Restorative Practices-Based Education System: Student peer mediators and support staff interene, have the students sit down together and de-escalate the situation. Zero-Tolerance Education System: A school police officer detains and arrests both students. Later that afternoon Restorative Practices-Based Education System: Carlos and the other student agree to help clean the cafeteria during a free period. Carlos meets with his counselor and parents after school to help resolve the conflict at home. Zero-Tolerance Education System: Carlos is held in juvenile detention facility all afternoon, missing school. He now has an arrest record and is facing suspension.

The illustration shows the difference between a system using restorative practices and one using zero tolerance.