What Research Shows

Current exclusionary discipline practices push students out of school and into court for minor misconduct.

Current Exclusionary Discipline Practices Push Students Out of School and into Court for Minor MisconductIn North Carolina, school-based referrals make up about 40% of the referrals to the juvenile justice system. Most of these referrals are for minor, nonviolent offenses. In the 2016-2017 school year, 92% of school-based referrals were for misdemeanors.

View data on school-based offenses

Responding to Student Misconduct with Exclusionary Discipline Produces Negative Outcomes for Students and SchoolsSuspension and expulsion increase the risk that students will drop out of school, repeat a grade, and engage in future delinquent conduct. A single suspension can triple the likelihood that a student will enter the juvenile justice system. Court involvement for minor misconduct increases the likelihood that youth will reoffend, and outcomes worsen with deeper involvement in the system. For example, confinement in a juvenile facility increases the risk that a youth will be rearrested as an adult. For some students, a school-based referral can lead to a permanent criminal record which creates barriers to college financial aid, employment, housing, and military eligibility.

Exclusionary Discipline Practices Disproportionately Impact Certain Groups of StudentsYouth of color are 2.5 times more likely to be referred to juvenile court and 1.5 times more likely to be placed in secure confinement than white youth. African-American students are 26% of the overall student population, but receive 57% of suspensions. Students with disabilities are 13% of the overall student population, but receive 24% of short-term suspensions and 22.5% of long-term suspensions. Male students are roughly half of the overall student population, but receive 73% of short-term suspensions and 80% of long-term suspensions.

SJPs Produce Better Outcomes for Students and Schools by Implementing Evidence-Based Discipline Strategies that Keep Kids in School and Improve Academic AchievementChief Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County, Georgia, implemented an SJP in 2004 that has produced positive results, including:

  • 83% decrease in referrals to juvenile court
  • 43% decrease in referrals of youth of color to juvenile court
  • 24% increase in graduation rates

Following the Teske model, New Hanover County implemented an SJP in November 2015 that has resulted in a 47% decrease in school-based referrals in its first year.

SJPs in Texas and Connecticut based on the Teske model also have produced positive results. Early results in Texas showed a 27% decrease in referrals, and two sites in Connecticut experienced reductions of 59% and 87%, respectively.