Framework in Action
City Uses Trauma-Informed Approach to Revise Disciplinary Policy

A West Coast city experienced increased discipline problems resulting in a large number of students being suspended or expelled. While all staff and a number of parents were trained in trauma-informed care and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS), there were still a significant number of students being suspended or expelled. School officials knew they needed to change the policy on student suspension and expulsion and involve parents in the policy change.

A multi-disciplinary group of principals, teachers, parents, and mental health staff formed a committee and concluded that the discipline code for the students should align with the key learnings about trauma and positive strategies for behavior change. Related, the committee reached consensus on what behaviors should result in suspensions or expulsions, and the consequences for these infractions.

For suspensions, both parents and students were required to participate in family decision-making groups, and students were required to take restorative practice sessions with mental health staff in order to re-enter school. For expulsions, students were referred to the County Alternative School for a mental health screening. Parents were also required to participate in the assessment process and if necessary, participate in family therapy with the students.  

Strategic Approach: