Welcome to a single source of discipline resources compiled by the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education. These resources are organized under broad categories below for ease of navigation.

Discipline Toolkit

The Discipline Toolkit is a framework for districts to use to develop a sustainable plan to reduce suspensions and expulsions. It was developed to assist districts identified as having a significant discrepancy in the percentage of students with an individualized education program (IEP) in one or more race or ethnic groups who were suspended or expelled for more than ten days over multiple years. However, any district can benefit from analyzing discipline data and using this process to improve practices and prevent the occurrence of significant discrepancies.

Promising Practices

The Office of Special Education (OSE) does not endorse the use of any specific discipline methodology or practice and recognizes those included on this page do not constitute an exhaustive list. The goal of the OSE is to emphasize there are multiple aspects of discipline to be explored and addressed to resolve issues of disproportionality in suspension and expulsion. Below are a few resources in areas commonly related to discipline.

Bullying Prevention Programs

Bully-Free Schools: Circle of Support Program was developed by the Michigan Strategic Alternatives In Prevention Education (SAFE) and is endorsed by the Michigan Department of Education.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports:  This federal office offers a wide range of bullying prevention services.

Intervention Central:  This program offers resources about preventing and addressing bullying at school.

Character Education

The Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen:  This is a workbook and speaker’s notes from the White House Conference on Character and Community.

Caring School Community (CSC):  CSC is a multi-year school improvement program that involves all students in grades K–6. The program aims to promote core values, pro-social behavior, and a school-wide feeling of community. The program consists of four elements originally developed for the Child Development Project: class meeting lessons, cross-age “buddies” programs, “home-side” activities, and school-wide community.

Character Counts:  The Intervention Center endorses this resource.

Classroom Management

Classroom Management Module:  The American Psychological Association offers a module including a discussion of effective practices, a discussion of evidence-based practices with helpful links, a question and answer section, and helpful references.

Lions Quest—Skills for Adolescence:  The program was designed to promote good citizenship skills, core character values, and social-emotional skills and discourage the use of drugs, alcohol, and violence. The program includes a classroom curriculum, school-wide practices to create a positive school climate, parent and family involvement, and community involvement. The lessons use cooperative group learning exercises and classroom management techniques to improve classroom climate. A related program is reviewed in the intervention report.

Office of Special Education Programs Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavior Support:  This office has a wealth of information available by typing “classroom management” into the Search box including the following:

Culturally Responsive Practices

Facilitating Transformation, A Framework for Culturally Responsive Cognitive Coaching in Schools:  LeadScape from the National Institute of Urban School Improvement has developed this framework. In the model, the concept of coaching has been refined to utilize the practice of cognitive coaching through a culturally responsive lens in order to achieve the desired outcome of inclusive schools.

Practitioner Brief Addressing Diversity in Schools: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: This brief defines culturally responsive pedagogy and explains how it might be used effectively to address the instructional needs of a diverse student population.

Interventions for Disproportionality

Equity Alliance at ASU: This organization is devoted to research and school reform efforts that promote equity, access, participation, and outcomes for all students. Committed to inclusive education, the Equity Alliance values diversity, pushes the boundaries of traditional thinking, and leads by example.

The Equity Project, Indiana University:  A consortium of projects at Indiana University are dedicated to providing high-quality data to educational decision-makers in order to better understand and address issues regarding educational equity to bridge the gap between research and practice.

In addition, the project provides support and technical assistance to educational agencies seeking to create equitable school systems.

Mental Health

5 “T” Strategies for Promoting Student Mental Health:  This is a three and a half minute animated video describing ways that teachers can incorporate mental health practices into everyday classroom activities.

Trauma-Informed Practices in School Discipline:  This is the seventh event in the “Supportive School Discipline” webinar series, and it provides the knowledge that school, district, and court staff, law enforcement and legal personnel, youth, families, and other community stakeholders need to better understand the impact of exposure to trauma on youth behavior. It also presents how some discipline responses can traumatize or re-traumatize youth, providing trauma-informed alternatives. In addition, the behavioral impact of trauma on youth with disabilities is explained. By better understanding the impact of trauma, and the inter-relationship of trauma and disability, schools can use discipline practices that support students, foster their success, and keep them out of the justice system. Complete Series: Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series

Michigan Trauma-Informed Local Coalitions:  Information about local communities in Michigan working to prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma and toxic stress for their citizens is available on this Michigan Department of Health & Human Services webpage.

Positive Behavior Support

School-wide Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports, Implementation Guide 2010:  This guide was developed by a team of authors experienced in working with school staff, students, and families on positive behavior support across a variety of settings over an extended period of time. Based on the earlier document published in 2000 by the MDE, the guide provides the practitioner with the skills necessary to implement universal interventions, targeted interventions, and intensive individualized interventions.

OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports:  The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) created the OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports website to give schools capacity-building information and technical assistance for identifying, adapting, and sustaining effective school-wide disciplinary practices. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all children and youth by making targeted behaviors less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.

Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (CRPBIS):  CRPBIS is an educational initiative grounded in local to global justice theory with the ultimate goal of educational systems change. Using Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and various types of data collection, four local schools are working with members of their communities to identify tensions within school, pose new solutions, and test their effectiveness.

Restorative Justice

Safer Saner Schools: Whole-School Change, International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP):  IIRP provides a comprehensive two-year school implementation program in a cost-effective way to achieve lasting change to enhance and build relationships between students, staff, and parents; improve student behavior; reduce violence and bullying; create a sense of community. IIRP helps the school leadership and staff develop a customized plan based on needs and goals, organizes staff “professional learning groups” and regular follow-up phone meetings, delivers onsite professional development, and assists with evaluation.

Restorative Justice: A Working Guide for Our Schools:  Restorative Justice has been applied in schools across the world to successfully build healthy school communities, support students and teachers, and address discipline issues. Restorative practices take incidents that might otherwise result in punishment and create opportunities for students to:

  • Become aware of the impact of their behavior.
  • Understand the obligation to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Take steps toward making things right.

Through this process, students learn how to interact and manage their relationships with adults and peers and become better equipped to understand how actions impact others and how to monitor future behavior.

Social Skills Training

The What Works Clearinghouse clarifies that social skills training does not have a single developer responsible for providing information or materials. The interventions identified below were developed by various study authors and are not available for distribution through a common developer. The following sites provide a general overview of social skills training methods:

Building Decision SkillsThis aims to raise middle and high school students’ awareness of ethics, help them gain practical experience in developing core values, and give them practical strategies for dealing with ethical dilemmas. Building Decision Skills consists of ten lessons that can fill two consecutive weeks of daily lessons or be drawn out over a longer period. Students are encouraged to think about key concepts through small-group activities, class discussions, and homework assignments. The program also includes school-wide components, and it can be combined with service learning.

Guidance for Discipline

U.S. Department of Education

Federal Technical Assistance Information:  USED with the U.S. Dept. of Justice released a school discipline guidance package in January 2014. The components include:

  • The Dear Colleague guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in conjunction with DOJ, describes how schools can meet their legal obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color, or national origin;
  • The Guiding Principles document draws from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and school discipline;
  • The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indexes the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources related to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts; and
  • The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, an online catalog of the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.

Effective Evidence-based Practices for Preventing and Addressing Bullying, Enclosure to the OSERS August 20, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter on Bullying: “There is no one-size-fits-all or simple solution for addressing bullying behavior. Rather, efforts to prevent and address bullying behavior should be embedded within a comprehensive, multi-tiered behavioral framework used to establish a positive school environment, set high academic and behavioral expectations for all students, and guide delivery of evidence-based instruction and interventions that address the needs of students, including students with disabilities. In such a framework, policies and practices would be aligned and consistently implemented school-wide; that is, across general and special education, each grade level, and in all school settings and activities.”

Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document, May 2012:  This document reiterates the department’s position that positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) is an important preventative framework that can increase the capacity of school staff to support all children, including children with the most complex behavioral needs, thus reducing the instances that require intensive interventions.

Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates; prepared by the United States Secret Service and the United States Department of Education, July 2004

Michigan Department of Education

Michigan State Board of Education (SBE) Model Code of Student Conduct 2019:  Adoption of a code of student conduct is one element of a school district’s safe schools plan. There is no singular code of student conduct that meets the needs of every school district, although every school district is required by law to adopt a code, as set forth in The Revised School Code, MCLA 380.1312(8). The Model Code of Student Conduct is provided as a tool to assist Michigan school districts in developing, updating, or revising their local codes.

MDE Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions Toolkit:  This toolkit is designed to accompany the Model Code of Student Conduct and provides guidance on enacting culture change in K-12 schools and addressing behavioral concerns using non-exclusionary methods.

Policy on Reducing Student Suspensions and Expulsions, May 13, 2014:  The SBE strongly urges Michigan school districts to review existing zero-tolerance policies, reserving exclusion for only the most serious offenses, and to adopt practices that allow educators to address disciplinary matters as opportunities for learning. In addition, the SBE encourages schools to implement or expand evidence-based alternative and supplemental strategies for social and emotional learning such as PBIS and Restorative Practices. It urges school districts to integrate these practices into their culture to support and sustain them as vital elements of school operations.

Resolution to Address School Discipline Issues Impacting Student Outcomes, June 12, 2012:  The resolution affirms the Board, along with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, remains absolutely committed to policies that preserve the safest environment possible for students, staff, and volunteers in all of the state’s schools. The Board further indicates there is a mounting body of evidence that suggests safety can be maintained, and educational outcomes can be improved, by reducing the number of student suspensions and expulsions.

Policies on Bullying, July 19, 2001, Updated and Approved November 9, 2010:  The Board affirms it is the policy of the State Board of Education that public schools and state education programs over which the State Board has policymaking authority should develop a plan designed to prevent bullying, and develop methods to react to bullying when it occurs, as an integral part of a district-wide safety and discipline plan.

Model Anti-Bullying Policy, November 9, 2010:  The scope of this model policy includes the prohibition of every form of bullying, harassment, and cyberbullying/harassment, whether in the classroom, on school premises, immediately adjacent to school premises, when a student is traveling to or from school (portal to portal), or at a school-sponsored event, whether or not held on school premises.

Expulsions Due to Weapons, Arson, and Criminal Sexual Conduct, June 2010:  This Michigan Recommends document clarifies the requirements surrounding expulsion due to weapons, arson, and criminal sexual conduct.

Positive Behavior Support Policy, September 12, 2006:  An effective behavior support system is a proactive, positive, skill-building approach for the teaching and learning of successful student behavior. Positive behavior support systems ensure effective strategies that promote pro-social behavior and respectful learning environments. Research-based positive behavior support systems are appropriate for all students, regardless of age.