top of page
  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

Solutions: Safe Schools, Clear Rules

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

But the solution to these problems will be unique because we need to solve local problems by employing local solutions.

"As K-12 schools officials struggle to address a post-Covid surge of student misbehavior and violence, they must also navigate rapid swings in civil rights directives from the U.S. Department of Education.

There is growing alarm among school officials and parents about post-Covid disorder in our schools. According to a report by the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center, “Schools across the country are reporting increased levels of misbehavior, including fights and more serious acts of violence.” A survey conducted by Education Week’s Research Center found that “nearly half of all school and district leaders (44 percent) say they are receiving more threats of violence by students now than they did in the fall of 2019 . . . [T]wo out of three teachers, principals, and district leaders say that students are misbehaving more these days than they did in the fall of 2019.” In this context, restricting the availability of disciplinary measures would encounter strong resistance.

There is concern among rank-and-file teachers about their own safety and the difficulty of maintaining order in classrooms and hallways. With teachers facing greater threats of violence within the classroom.

Initial research on the main alternative to out-of-school punishments—restorative justice—found that this approach to dealing with misbehavior falls far short of its supporters’ expectations. A RAND study of several schools in Maine found that “the middle-school student who received Restorative Practices Intervention did not report more school connectedness, better school climate, more positive peer relationships and developmental outcomes or less victimization than students in control schools did.” A second, more extensive study of schools in Pittsburgh found that the number and length of suspensions declined in elementary schools instituting restorative justice programs.

Solutions that Back to Basics school board members would propose in regards to violence and bullying include:

  • Collecting and regularly reviewing data on disciplinary actions to identify possible discrimination;

  • Establishing clearer, less subjective rules on what constitutes misconduct and appropriate the punishments for various levels of misconduct;

  • Making sure that school policies are consistent with state law;

  • Ensuring that the role of School Resource Officials (i.e. law enforcement personnel with arrest power located within schools) are addressing misconduct in accordance with PA law (instead of the district using SROs to circumvent 911 procedures);

  • Improving communications with parents, especially those with limited English proficiency;

  • Developing alternatives to out-of-school punishments;

  • Providing better training to school personnel;

  • Hiring more school counselors and mental health professionals; and

  • Providing students with “tutoring, after school and summer learning, and enrichment programs to help students make meaningful academic and behavioral progress.”


bottom of page