124 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 36:2 2016]
seminar at ten sites, starting with an initial training that took place in March 2016.129 At these
academies, TSDC members serve as an interdisciplinary training team comprised of, at a
minimum, a school psychologist, an attorney, and a restorative justice practitioner.
The aim of the effort is to support school administrators to implement meaningful
discipline reform by increasing their ability to evaluate their district or school’s data, policies and
practices in light of the recently adopted state discipline legislation and the framework of multi-tiered systems of support.
131 The focus is on implementing a holistic prevention-oriented approach
to school discipline and building participants’ capacity to analyze how the principles of restorative
practices can be applied to address the most prevalent discipline concerns in their schools or
132 Participants are encouraged to bring teams from their district or school composed of
administrators and other school staff directly charged with implementing disciplinary policies,
including superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, deans, school psychologists and
other school-based mental health professionals.
133 Participants are asked to collect and review their
district and/or school's data, policies and practices on school discipline prior to the seminar.
the seminar, participants work individually and in groups to analyze their current data, policies
and practices and develop a procedure that applies the prevention-oriented framework to one
common misbehavior in their school or district.
VI. LESSONS LEARNED AND NEXT STEPS
TSDC’s goal has been to build upon the national and state-level momentum around school
discipline reform by supporting school districts to create equitable and just discipline practices that
help students learn alternative behaviors while staying in school. To date, there have been many
lessons learned in our cross-disciplinary state-level work. One of the primary lessons learned is
the need for continued cross-disciplinary efforts in addressing complex discipline issues in schools.
Multiple professional disciplines are represented within our collaborative, including attorneys,
child advocates, school psychologists, policy advocates and restorative justice practitioners. Given
that the issue of school discipline inherently involves the intersection of legal and educational
issues, involving multiple perspectives of various stakeholders in the development of the draft
document is essential. This ensures that the group’s outcomes encompass issues related to legal
compliance, as well as a solid grounding in research-based practices and on-the-ground school and
district challenges in reforming school discipline policies.
A constraint faced by the group is that the task of designing a model code of conduct and
an accompanying training, as well as the process of implementing the school discipline reform at
the district level, is being done in a context where the state of Illinois is facing a severe budget
crisis that is impacting critical programs and services for children, families and communities
throughout the state.
136 School districts, including Chicago Public Schools—the third largest
129 Transforming School Discipline Collaborative, Shared Google Spreadsheet (last visited Mar. 8, 2016) (unpublished
document) (on file with author).
130 See id.
136 LISA CHRISTENSEN GEE, FISCAL POLICY CTR. AT VOICES FOR ILLINOIS CHILD., LACK OF BUDGET IS DISMANTLING
CRITICAL STATE SERVICES (Sept. 2015), http://www.voices4kids.org/wp-