Kemerer and Sansom (2013) describe the disciplinary acts and consequences of current student discipline law on Table 9.1 of page 345-349. In it they describe the different acts a student must commit in order to get recommended for expulsion as in the Big Five and the rest of the actions a student must commit in order to get suspended. According to Kemerer and Sansom (2013) if a student commits any of the big five, which include possessing, selling or furnishing a firearm, brandishing a knife, unlawfully selling a controlled substance, committing or attempting to commit a sexual act and possession of an explosive, a student must be immediately suspended and mandatorily recommended for expulsion. Having said this the final if the student is found to have committed any of the big five actions the board can suspend the enforcement of the expulsion. Because of this possibility current disciplinary law can be used to bring interventions to all students.
I can recall one case a few years ago when a student brought a toy gun to school, one of those cap guns that tend to look real but have the red tip to show that they are not, and after he was discovered to have had the gun on school grounds he was immediately suspended and within a few days removed from the school. He was never officially expelled because the parent requested to transfer the student to another school rather than face the suspension hearing. When thinking of this incident I can’t think that this student didn’t have to transfer to another school. What if the school policy was to use actions like this to bring more awareness to these types of incidents? As Kemerer and Sansom (2013) point out that an expulsion could be dismissed if an “alternative means of correction would address the misconduct” (pg. 356). Why instead of having zero-tolerance policies we created a different policy of working with students to change their behavior.
At the school I currently work for we have a tool that we use to create dialogue between the teacher, parent and student. Some teachers like myself take advantage of this tool to reach all students (I’ve had up to 60), while others use it to reach the ones that have been described as needing extra attention, the tool we use is home visits. Every year teachers are required to do a minimum of 10 home visits a year, as I mentioned previously I’ve tried to take all my 60 students on home visits. The reason being that I have found once I begin to build that bond with that student outside of school the bond within the classroom becomes more powerful. My first year teaching I had many discipline issues in my classroom but I realized that once I took students out on a home visit, some of those issues diminished or went away. As schools become bigger and more complicated, the bond between teacher and student is slowly diminishing and I know that one way we can create interventions for all students is to get to know them and build a bond with them based on their interest. Yes, it takes a lot of time an effort to do this but I know it makes my life as a teacher a lot easier when my students know I care about them as people and because of it I have seen the need for behavior modifications within the classroom diminish.
Kemerer F, Sansom P. (2013) California School Law, Third Edition. Stanford California: Stanford University Press.