Title: Student Discipline
Adopted: November 28, 1984
Last Revised: May 14, 2013
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2021
Prior Revised Dates: August 26, 1992; May 30, 2000; January 24, 2012
Behavioral Interventions and Supports
Schools should be safe, nurturing, participatory, and productive learning environments. This requires both clear expectations for student conduct and positive, multi-tiered systems of support and interventions to meet students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs. To that end, the Portland Board of Public Education (“Board”) has developed this policy and its companion policy, JIC – System-wide Student Code of Conduct, as overarching guides for stakeholders, for related board policies, and for district- and building-level policies and practices.
Article 1 – Core Values
This policy is intended to support the following core values at Portland Public Schools:
- High Expectations – We are all expected and enabled to meet high standards.
- Creativity and Innovation – We embrace all modes of learning and encourage experimentation, ingenuity, and boldness.
- Individuality – We respect and value each person as an individual.
- Community – We are better together and support one another.
- Courage – We commit to always confronting inequity.
Article 2 – Guidelines for Behavioral Interventions and Supports
District and building leaders are responsible for cultivating positive, multi-tiered supports for students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs and for implementing interventions for non-expected behavior that, whenever possible, improve the connection to school, strengthen relationships, promote a sense of accountability, and provide individuals opportunities to repair harm they have caused. Behavioral interventions and supports, moreover, shall uphold the core values listed in Article 1. The following are guidelines for such behavioral interventions and supports.
- Behavioral expectations should be clearly communicated to school staff, students and parents and taught and modeled in an ongoing manner.
- Behavioral expectations should be developed with diverse stakeholder input.
- Staff and faculty should have or be actively developing the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to understand and serve the full diversity of their student body.
- Behavioral interventions and supports should emphasize positive reinforcement for expected behavior.
- Students will be held accountable for non-expected behavior, but that accountability will emphasize opportunities and supports to teach expected behaviors, repair harm, restore relationships, and deepen engagement whenever possible.
- Administrators should be consistent in their responses to non-expected behavior by students but have the discretion to tailor responses to non-expected behavior based on the facts and circumstances of the particular case when appropriate, while being mindful to guard against implicit bias.
- Consequences determined to be necessary for the student to be held accountable should be in proportion and relevant to the offense and the student’s behavioral history. They must be fairly and consistently enforced.
- Teachers are authorized to make and enforce rules for effective classroom management and to foster expected student behavior, subject to collaboration with and direction and approval by the Principal.
- Families should be treated as partners in the process of understanding, preventing, and resolving behavioral problems at school.
- Physical activity shall not be used as punishment or discipline. Whenever possible, physical activity (including physical education and recess) shall not be withheld as a form of punishment or discipline. Administrators and staff may provide alternative physical activities—such as 1:1 or small group games—to students behaving inappropriately during physical activities such as physical education and recess.
- Physical force and corporal punishment shall not be used as disciplinary methods. State law provides that “a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a person for special or limited purposes may not be held civilly liable for the use of a reasonable degree of force against the person who creates a disturbance if the teacher or other person reasonably believes it is necessary to a) control the disturbing behavior; or b) remove the person from the scene of the disturbance.” Any restraint or seclusion of students shall comply with applicable regulations and Board policy.
- School personnel shall be trained in and provided supports for conflict de-escalation.
- Behavioral interventions and supports for students with disabilities shall not contradict applicable federal and state law/regulations.
- The district and schools have an obligation to monitor for, report, and intervene in the inequitable application of discipline. This is described further in Article 4.
Article 3 – Examples of Behavioral Interventions and Supports
This article offers illustrative examples of what a positive, multi-tiered system of behavioral interventions and supports could look like, consistent with Articles 1 and 2.
- Clearly articulated, taught, and positively reinforced sets of desired behaviors designed with the input of diverse stakeholders. Many of these desired behaviors might apply to all school community members, not just to students. A framework such as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) can help organize this work in an ongoing manner.
- Clear and predictable protocols for addressing non-expected behaviors, including protocols that help students solve problems before they escalate, and interventions—such as counseling sessions or academic supports—that address the underlying needs of students.
- School-wide instruction in social-emotional skills.
- Cultivation of positive relationships through programming like Advisory or Class Meeting.
- Safe and robust protocols for hearing, monitoring, and intervening in concerns about equity in behavior management.
Short-term or Small Group Interventions and Supports
- Systems, such as facilitated mediation or Restorative Practices (RP), that allow all school community members to safely resolve conflict.
- Short-term or small group support from counselors, social workers, or advisors. This could include social skills groups, re-teaching of expectations, or Check-In Check-Out (CICO) protocols.
- Data-driven adjustments to schoolwide supports.
- Partnership with students and families to collectively articulate problems, set goals, and design useful supports.
- Predictable, proportionate consequences that protect the needs of other students without ignoring the needs of the student receiving consequences.
Individualized/Intensive Supports and Interventions
- Individualized behavioral support plans or safety plans designed with multidisciplinary input and student and family involvement.
- Referral to and collaboration with outside supports such as social service agencies or school-based clinicians.
- The judicious use of in-school and out-of-school suspensions as a stopgap to allow the development of a re-entry plan that supports the safety, health, and academic and social-emotional wellbeing of the student and the school community.
- Referral for evaluation for possible provision of special education behavioral health services if appropriate.
Article 4 – Monitoring for and Intervening in Disciplinary Inequities
While this policy frames behavior management as a matter of positive interventions and supports, behavior management does involve actions, such as suspension or loss of privileges, that could be termed disciplinary consequences. Racial and other demographic disparities in disciplinary consequences are widely documented in research literature. The district and buildings should monitor for and intervene in discipline disparities that could signal inequity.
To that end, schools should share a system for disciplinary record keeping such that racial and other disparities in school discipline can be easily monitored by building and district leaders. This framework should not be limited to suspensions; it should include more common, lower-intensity interventions.
Furthermore, the Superintendent or designee shall review disciplinary disparities apparent by race, gender, LGBTQ+ identification (to the extent that identifying data and privacy allows), special education status, or other relevant categories with individual building leaders at least annually and plan with them building-level responses aimed at reducing disparities. This could include policy and practice changes or professional development for individuals or groups.
The Superintendent or designee shall also share district level disparity data with the Board annually and describe the responses being planned and implemented.
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