School Discipline Policies




Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners conducted an HIA on the health implications of three different approaches to disciplining students in California schools: zero tolerance, positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and restorative justice. It is hypothesized that zero tolerance policies (in which students are suspended or expelled for offenses) may not make schools safer and may actually contribute to early drop out by some segments of the youth population. Some of the pathways and health issues explored include the impacts of high school completion on health, safety in schools with various discipline policies and student mental health. The HIA found that zero tolerance, or exclusionary school discipline, policies would likely have a negative effect on mental health conditions, community violence and crime, and drug use. PBIS and restorative justice policies would likely have a positive impact on these same health determinants. The HIA recommended that PBIS or restorative justice policies be used as alternatives to zero tolerance policies, and that a rigorous evaluation of pilot schools for these alternative programs be conducted.


PBIS is continuing to be implemented in South Los Angeles. Pilot PBIS and RJ programs are being implemented in Oakland and Salinas.

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Learn more about Pew's partnership with philanthropists Roger and Victoria Sant.

At A Glance
  • Status Complete
  • Completion Date 2012, May
  • Decision-Level County
  • Sector Education
  • Organization Type Nonprofit