Charting School Discipline

53 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2016 Last revised: 19 Apr 2016

See all articles by Susan DeJarnatt

Susan DeJarnatt

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Kerrin Wolf

Stockton University

Mary Kate Kalinich

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: March 30, 2016

Abstract

Exclusionary school discipline can steer students away from educational opportunities and towards the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As many public school systems have turned to exclusionary school discipline practices over the past two decades, they have also increasingly adopted charter schools as alternatives to traditional public schools. This research is examines the student codes of conduct for the charter schools in the School District of Philadelphia to consider the role of their disciplinary practices and the potential effects on charter students.

We analyzed every disciplinary code provided to the Philadelphia School District by charter schools within Philadelphia during the 2014-2015 school year. Our goal was to examine the provisions relating to detention, suspension, and expulsion, along with other disciplinary responses, to determine what conduct can result in disciplinary consequences, what responses are available for various types of misbehavior, and whether the code language is clear or ambiguous or even accessible to students or potential students and their parents or caregivers. We conclude that too many of the codes are not well drafted, and too many follow models of punitive discipline that can be used to push out non-compliant or challenging students. Some codes grant almost complete discretion to school administrators to impose punitive discipline for any behavior the administrator deems problematic.

We hope that this work will spur future research on implementation of charter school discipline policies to illustrate how charter schools are using their codes. Further, we hope to see the charter sector develop model disciplinary codes that move away from a zero tolerance punitive model towards disciplinary systems based on restorative principles.

Keywords: exclusionary school discipline, charter schools, School-to-prison pipeline, education reform, suspension of charter students

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39,

Suggested Citation

DeJarnatt, Susan and Wolf, Kerrin and Kalinich, Mary Kate, Charting School Discipline (March 30, 2016). The Urban Lawyer (Forthcoming); Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2756713

Susan DeJarnatt (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Kerrin Wolf

Stockton University ( email )

101 Vera King Farris Drive
Galloway, NJ 08205
United States

Mary Kate Kalinich

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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