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School Discipline in the Spotlight

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Over the last year, I spent a lot of time learning about how students are punished at school, an action that often means they are told to leave school.

Sometimes, it's absolutely the right call, said Robert Spicer, a dean at Christian Fenger Academy High School in Chicago, who was a guest this week during an Education Week webinar on school discipline. He says, however, that suspension or expulsion are used too often, as first resorts, not last resorts.

I met Spicer while reporting a series of stories about school discipline last fall. Some of that work culminated in this year's Quality Counts report, which is all about school discipline and school climate.

On Tuesday, Spicer talked about how his school uses restorative practices to help students work through behavioral problems, incidents, and prevent them before they arise.

Also during the webinar, Bob Stevens of the Charleston school district in South Carolina talked about the profound effects Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, have had on his school district.

You can catch what he had to say by replaying the "Rethinking Discipline" webinar, which will be available in the archives for a limited time.

While you're at it, check out this profile of Jonathan Brice, whose work in the Baltimore school district is particularly notable. In the process of reporting those other pieces, I learned a lot about all of the work in Baltimore over the last few years around changing approaches to student discipline.

Brice was selected as one of 16 "Leaders to Learn From" in special education, school climate, parent engagement, and more.

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