A common metric being used around the country to show that school districts are "taking misbehavior seriously" is the lowered number of suspensions and expulsions.
We do this locally as well.
At one school locally, those charged with managing the discipline are keenly aware that the numbers must be kept low, and these staff members know there is the potential for a lawsuit if too many students, particularly those of color, are suspended or expelled.
So different punishments are being utilized. Teachers are told to re-direct misbehavior up to as many as four or five times and to "handle the misbehavior in your class, deal with it!"
In some cases this is appropriate--if the behavior is minor and can be corrected.
But what about students that bully and harass their classmates?
One middle school teacher I spoke with recently told me straight up he gets "cussed at all the time, the students get away with it and they know there is no meaningful consequence." he continued "They know I have to fill out a behavior incident form, and even if I fill in all four parts in a day--it is still no guarantee the student will receive a written referral"
It is not just happening here. Instead of having real "courageous conversations" about strict enforcement of discipline, many districts are weakening the ramifications of bad behavior to make "numbers better."
Tacoma, Washington is changing the way they handle discipline. They are being pressurred into lowering their suspension and expulsion numbers. They are also, apparently buying in to the flawed notion that in order for minority students to learn, they need to have minority teachers teaching them. (I think that is garbage, good teachers come from all cultures and backgrounds, and are good whether they are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or any nationality. There should not be a racial quota system in hiring teachers.)
From today's News Tribune: