Dallas ISD Modifies Approach to Discipline

Dallas ISD has decided to eliminate suspensions as disciplinary practices, extending to middle and high school students.

Students are only a few weeks into the 2021-2022 school year, but some may already notice significant changes in the Dallas ISD’s discipline policies. After many meetings with parents, students, and teachers, the school board decided to eliminate in-school and out-of-school suspensions. This approach has been the standard for elementary children in Dallas since 2017, but now the program is being extended into middle and high school classrooms.

This new policy doesn’t let kids off the hook for disruptive behavior. They will still be removed from the classroom. However, instead of being sent home, they will be sent to a designated “Reset Center” in the building.

“Sending students home to an environment that might have shaped their behavior and where they are isolated and disconnected is just not the best approach in many cases,” explained Emmett J. Conrad High School Principal Temesghen Asmerom.

“The idea is that if the student misbehaves and acts in a way that is not correct, we can bring in supports to find out why that student is acting this way,” Assistant Superintendent Vince Reyes said. “We want to create a system of support and accountability around the student instead of just sending them home.”

Pierre Fleurinor is one of the projects coordinators, and he also runs one of the Reset Centers. His classroom is equipped with bean bag chairs and stress balls that smell of lavender. He is working to create an environment where kids who are struggling can breathe and decompress, and hopefully refocus on their school work.

“When the kids come in, we pop a spot on these bean bags together. I get side by side with them,” said Fleurinor. “Our whole focus was restorative practices. We want to attack the real issue that’s bothering kids.”

Serious infractions are still eligible for out-of-school suspensions or expulsions. However, at Emmett J. Conrad High School, Asmerom has witnessed the positive impact the policy can have.

“We rarely suspend students,” Asmerom said. “It’s not because we don’t have incidents, it’s just a change in perspective and trying to get the right processes in place.”

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