Understanding discipline as a “teachable moment” is fundamental to a positive approach to discipline. Progressive discipline uses incremental interventions to address inappropriate behavior with the ultimate goal of teaching pro-social behavior. Progressive discipline does not seek punishment. Instead, progressive discipline seeks concurrent accountability and behavioral change. The goal of progressive discipline is prevention of a recurrence of negative behavior by helping students learn from their mistakes. Essential to the implementation of progressive discipline is helping students who have engaged in unacceptable behavior to:
- Under stand why the behavior is unacceptable and the harm it has caused;
- understand what they could have done differently in the same situation;
- take responsibility for their actions;
- be given the opportunity to learn pro-social strategies and skills to use in the future; and
- understand the progression of more stringent consequences if the behavior reccurs.
Every reasonable effort must be made to correct student behavior through guidance interventions and other school-based strategies such as restorative practices. Guidance interventions are essential because inappropriate behavior or violations of the Discipline Code may be symptomatic of more serious problems that students are experiencing. It is, therefore, important that school personnel be sensitive to issues that may influence the behavior of students and respond in a manner that is most supportive of their needs. Appropriate disciplinary responses should emphasize prevention and effective intervention, foster resiliency, prevent disruption to students’ education, and promote positive school culture. When a student’s misconduct results in a placement out of the classroom, the school should consider using peer mediation or the restorative circle process as an effective strategy to support a successful return to the student’s regular program. For students with disabilities whose behavior impedes the student’s participation in school, a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is an essential tool to understand the causes of the student’s behavior. A behavioral intervention plan (BIP) after an FBA provides specific approaches to address the student’s behavior.
Determining the Disciplinary
Response School officials must consult this document (the Discipline Code) when determining which disciplinary measure to impose. In determining how to best address inappropriate conduct, it is necessary to evaluate the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct.
The following facts must be considered prior to determining the appropriate disciplinary measures:
- the student’s age and maturity;
- the student’s disciplinary record (including the nature of any prior misconduct, the number of prior instances of misconduct, and the disciplinary and guidance intervention measures applied for each);
- the nature, severity, and scope of the behavior;
- the circumstances/context in which the conduct occurred;
- the frequency and duration of the behavior;
- the number of persons involved in the behavior;
- the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan), BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan), and/or 504 Accommodation Plan, if applicable. Guidance interventions are an essential adjunct to disciplinary measures.