School Discipline in the Eyes of School Superintendents

Type: Report
Topics: District & School Operations, Equity

June 19, 2014

In April 2014, AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) partnered to survey 500 school superintendents to determine the state of districtwide school discipline policies and practices.

It examined:

  • How and why districts use out-of-school suspension (OSS)
  • The revision and parameters of districts’ discipline policies
  • Outside partners districts seek in improving school discipline
  • Efforts underway to create positive school climates to reduce discipline disparities

While discipline policies and practices differ considerably from district to district and state to state, recent national data from the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education show that too many students are suspended out of school and that disparities persist.

AASA and CDF are working together with superintendents to find best practice solutions that keep children in school and improve school climates.

Snapshot of Survey Findings:

  • Half of the superintendents reported that reducing out-of-school suspensions and expulsions is important/very important to their leadership agendas.
  • Forty percent replied insubordination, defiance, failure to obey and disrespect of teachers and staff are the most common infractions that account for OSS in their districts.
  • Thirty percent indicate fighting is the most common cause.
  • Of the 92 percent who believe there are negative consequences to the use of OSS in their districts, 67 percent indicated that lost class time is the most significant while 27 percent identified increased disengagement, absenteeism, truancy and/or dropout as the most significant negative consequences.
  • Of the 85 percent who reported there are positive consequences to using OSS, 33 percent report that suspension maintains or improves school climate by removing the worst offenders. Fifteen percent said suspension improves the behaviors of disciplined students.


AASA & Children's Defense Fund

Additional Resources