A change of approach to school discipline in California schools has resulted in a decline in the number and percentage of students suspended and expelled in academic year 2014-2015 in comparison to academic year 2013-2014 across ethnic groups. State Superintendent Tom Torlakson attributes the shift toward resolving behavior issues in lieu of classroom removals as the causal mechanism for the decline. Effective solutions, restorative practices, and mediation to regulate emotions have contributed to the 13.9 percent decline in expulsions and the 12.8 percent decline in suspensions, according to Torlakson.
The reform efforts that resulted in the double digit decline began with improved data reporting efforts by the California Department of Education in the 2011-12 school year. The increased attention to the high numbers of suspension and expulsion data across the state prompted the state legislature to introduce Assembly Bill 420, eliminating ‘willful defiance’ as a reason to expel students K-12 and a reason to suspend students in grades K-3.
The state has also facilitated the creation of a website, Behavioral Intervention Strategies and Supports, designed to increase collaboration among the school districts to increase support for teachers, staff, and administrators to use non-punitive methods for conflict and behavioral resolutions for students.
To read more about the decline in suspensions and expulsions statewide in California click here: Suspensions and expulsions decline as districts adopt alternatives