School Culture & Discipline
Rules & Logical Consequences
Explore’s approach to discipline is derived from the Responsive Classroom (described above). Students are expected to know and follow teacher directions and school rules, resolve conflicts without physical contact, be respectful of adults and each other, use appropriate language, and respect the rights and property of others. The goal of Explore’s approach to behavior it to set a high standard for kind, appropriate conduct and provide students with clear guidelines of acceptable behavior.
Staff members will treat students respectfully in all situations. Students are expected to make appropriate choices that ensure safety and respect for themselves and others. Each class works on developing an understanding of community around the idea of mutual respect and encouragement.
Staff will demonstrate to students that they can make choices in social situations and their behavior has consequences. Explore expects students to become positive members of the school community and to uphold our expectations for appropriate behavior. Rules and logical consequences will be clearly communicated to students, and those consequences will be administered calmly and fairly.
There are three types of logical consequences that students may be given, depending on the behavior and how the student will best learn from the situation:
- “You Break It, You Fix It.” - Children take responsibility for fixing, as best they can, any problem or mess they created.
- Loss of Privilege – When a student or group of students breaches the trust of the rules, a logical consequence is for the teacher to take away the privilege until the student shows readiness to handle the privilege, usually a class period or a day. What's taken away must be directly related to the misbehavior, and the teacher must make sure that the child truly understands and can live up to expectations. Students will have the opportunity to practice positive behavior choices to ensure future success.
- Safe Space - This type of logical consequence is used when a teacher believes that a child needs a way to calm down and recover self-control. The consequence is that the child moves to a pre-established place in the classroom, takes time to regroup, and then rejoins the class once he or she has calmed down.
School Behavior Response and Discipline Framework
This behavior response framework is enacted to support the strong sense of community that is central to Explore Community School’s mission, vision, values, and model. Students, staff, and families all have a role to play in building and keeping the culture of our school. Our school has developed its school behavior response by integrating philosophies and practices from Responsive Classroom, Restorative Practices and is supported by nuanced application of classroom management strategies.
Our premise is that 80% of the practices are proactive measures that build authentic relationships, give members of the community language to express their feelings, give staff members protocols for engaging with students, and give students voice and agency in their school day. The other 20% is responsive; how do we respond and repair harm when harm has been done?
Many people confuse a restorative or responsive school approach as permissive, or a seeming absence of corrective consequences. By its design, our complete behavior response plan will drastically reduce the need for those consequences.
However, when a student has made a knowing choice to break the rules and breach our culture, an appropriate consequence will be determined through our Fair Process. We will work actively with the student, family, teacher, and other school community members to fully and thoughtfully reintegrate the student(s) back in the learning community without guilt or blame. We think about mistakes as learning opportunities and we work together to learn and grow from them. We will use conferences, mediations, and restorative circles to elevate root causes, learn lessons, and teach replacement behaviors that will benefit the individual and the group. By design, the restorative process is collaborative and requires the active participation of the student which is what will increase the positive impact of the practice.
This year, we will continue to use a national assessment called the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), to measure the development of behavioral competencies related to our core values over the course of the year. We will also conduct other screenings and use a collection of data to determine if an Explorer needs additional social supports and will work in tandem with families to develop and implement appropriate interventions and supports.
All of the programs we use at Explore share a similar outlook. That is, that students can and want to show their best as a contributing member of our community. When students make mistakes, treating them with dignity, teaching a replacement behavior, thoughtful repairing of harm done, and reintegration into class is the best and most beneficial approach for all members of the school community.
Student Discipline Practices and Procedure
Discipline is used to teach and guide Explorers how to demonstrate care for our community. When students are disruptive or behave inappropriately, school staff members respond logically, appropriately, and consistently. Staff members ensure that all Explorers are treated with kindness, equity, and fairness.
In addition to the in-class proactive measures, the progressive behavioral continuum has been developed to make sure that we give Explorers! ample opportunity to self-regulate and self-correct by using the least invasive forms of intervention as possible. We will make this information clear for students and families so that all members of the school community understand the progression of interventions and when the intervention changes over to behavior correction.
We have outlined a process that Explorers will follow in the case that they show unexpected behaviors. The progression is developed to make sure our behavioral interventions equitable, to allow for student regulation, and to preserve the relationship between Explorers, families, and staff members.
The Progressive Behavior Continuum
Classroom Level Interventions
- Clear What to Do Directions
- Positive Narrations
- Non-Verbal/Least Invasive Reminders (Using cues, ASL , and/or least invasive redirections)
- Logical Consequence- (i.e. Go to seat, go to carpet, loss of materials, or Try it Again)
- Break in the Safe Space (10 minutes)
- Teacher Pep Talk (Stay in the Game/What happens next)
Behavior Correction (Families will be called)
- Buddy Classroom
- Check In with member of the Culture Team
- Visit with the School Leadership
- ISS for the day
- Family Pick-Up
Major Breaches of School Community
In some cases, an Explorer may make a decision that is unsafe or highly disruptive which significantly compromises our school community. In those rare cases, the student would go through a Fair Process for Corrective Consequences that maintains the dignity of the student, provides physical and emotional safety for students and staff, while providing a consistent and equitable process for families.
Our Discipline Table describes the three types of behavior breaches and possible interventions.
Fair Process for Corrective Consequences
When an Explorer has breached our school community, they will go through a fair process to help them regain the ability to self-regulate, accept accountability for their actions, make amends, and be fully integrated back into the class community. The fair process relies on timely and complete information from the supervising adult. Fair Process will be documented in Kickboard and shared via Slack to the teachers/supervising adult so that all impacted members are informed and know what to expect relative to next steps.
Step 1: De-escalate- Using safe, non-violent measures, school members will help the student to de-escalate. Helping them to calm their bodies, calm their breathing, and regulate their emotions so that they are ready to engage in conversation about what happened.
Step 2: Information Gathering- When the student is calm and ready, team members will gather information from the student, other involved students and the staff members to gain a clear and comprehensive understanding on what happened, and why.
Step 3: Consultation- This step requires members of the team to check in with other, the teacher, and family to take into consideration any other factors that we need to know before assigning a consequence. Such as, does the student have an IEP, a behavior plan, or any other variable that would influence that decision or affect the outcome?
Step 4: Take Action and Communicate- Informed by the information gathered about the event and the consultation, a respectful, developmentally appropriate, consequence will be discussed with the family and applied to the situation. This provides an opportunity for the student to take accountability for their actions with the support of caring adults and peers. The staff member who is responding to the breach will enter their incident notes in Kickboard and copy them on Slack to the teachers so that everyone will know and for reference for future documentation or communication needs.
Step 5: Reintegration to the Community- Once the consequence has been completed (within the school day or beyond) the student is now ready to be warmly welcomed to the community. This could be in the form of a formal conference with a leader, teacher, student, and family members. It could also be mediation meeting, formal conference, and class restorative circle. The purpose is the elevate the cause of the behavior, teacher alternatives and help all students understand the impact that their behavior has had on other members of the community. This is all done to intentionally repair harm and move forward without repeated incidents of undesired behaviors.
- If a student’s actions violate the personal safety of a school community member, the period of separation could be extended and would require family members to participate in a formal conference before reintegration to the class community.
If Explorers consistently demonstrate challenges meeting Explore’s behavior expectations, they may lose the privilege of participating in upcoming field trips or may need a designated caregiver to provide them, his is most likely if an Explorer has been aggressive, destructive, or spend significant time out of the classroom for behavioral concerns within a week of the trip.
If students with Individualized Education Plans, Behavior Intervention Plans, 504s, Student Success Plans, or Support Team plans require additional supervision or support during field trips, the team will collaborate with the caregivers to establish, document, and execute those interventions.
Students who consistently demonstrate such behaviors must regain Enrichment and Field Trip privileges by fixing any harm done and staying in class for at least three consecutive days leading up to the field trip. If students have not earned this privilege then a caregiver must accompany them on any field trip.
Suspension and Expulsion Policies and Procedures
Explore emphasizes social-emotional development and respect for others. We will always work to provide students the support that they need behaviorally and socially/emotionally, just as we do with academics. We hope that this will minimize the need to suspend or expel students. However, the Principal or the Director of Culture and Social Supports (DCSS) may suspend or expel a student under circumstances when the safety and well being of the student or others is threatened or the seriousness of the behavior requires time away from school.
Students may be suspended from school for a specified number of days or expelled from the school for the remainder of the year. Expelled students may re-apply to attend Explore the following year but will receive no admission preference.
The decision to suspend or expel a student will be made by the principal or the DCSS, with or without the recommendation of the student’s teacher or another school employee.
The school’s board of directors must approve any expulsions. The principal will determine the number of days for suspensions based on the severity of the infraction, the age of the student, previous infractions, and MNPS district level policies. When a student is suspended, a parent is required to pick the child up from school. When a child is suspended, a letter is sent home with the parent/guardian and a re-entry meeting is scheduled with school leadership, the student, the caregiver, and teachers.
Expulsion is defined as the exclusion from Explore Community School on a permanent basis. Tennessee law provides the Principal with the authority to expel students without Board involvement for the following behaviors (typically known as “Zero Tolerance” offenses):
- Drugs (17-10ZT) – Possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs; unlawful use, cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, solicitation, purchase, possession, transportation, or importation of any controlled drug (e.g. Demerol, Morphine) or narcotic substance.
- Handgun (18-10ZT) – Possession of a handgun; the weapon involved was a handgun or a pistol.
- Rifle/Shotgun (19-10ZT) – Possession of a rifle or shotgun; the weapon involved was a shotgun or rifle.
- Explosive (20-10ZT) – Possession of explosive, incendiary device, any destructive device which includes; any explosive, incendiary (e.g., bomb, grenade, rocket/missile, mine) or poison gas.
- Assault of Staff (32-10ZT) – Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a staff person, or causing physical contact with another that was extremely offensive or provocative.
- Aggravated Assault of Staff (35-10ZT) – This is considered assault of staff. Intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to the staff person.
The Principal reserves the right to request that the Board of Directors hold an expulsion hearing and consider the student for expulsion for a specific, severe behavioral infraction or for repeated disregard of school policies and procedures. Specifically, regarding the latter, a parent meeting will be required once a student has been suspended for four incidents. A behavior contract will be made between the student and school if he/she has been suspended for three incidents. A student’s breach of this contract may lead to the recommendation of an expulsion hearing. Whenever an expulsion hearing is recommended, the below procedural safeguards will be in effect:
The student shall receive written notice of the following:
- Outline of infractions/charges and a statement of the evidence;
- Date, time and place of a hearing;
- Notice of the right at the hearing to:
- Be represented by their parents, legal or other representative (at the student’s/parent’s own expense).
- Present evidence.
- Confront and cross-examine witnesses.
The school will record (by tape or other appropriate means) the hearing and a copy of such will be made available to the student upon request.
All preceeding communication, notices and proceedings will be translated into the student's/parent's primary language if necessary for their understanding of the proceedings.
A student and/or parent, upon request, will have the right to review the student’s records in accordance with the TN Records Regulations or other applicable law.
All decisions by the Board of Directors regarding expulsion of a student will be issued to him or her in writing. In addition to the above stated policies, any breaches of Federal, TN State or Nashville City laws may be handled in cooperation with the local police department.
Procedural Safeguards for Students with Special Needs or Disabilities
Federal and state law provide certain procedural rights and protections relating to discipline of students who have been identified under such laws as having special needs based upon an IDEA or Section 504 recognized exceptionality . A copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards or Parent and Educator Guide to Section 504 rights can be found in the Main Office.
Explore! Community School officials may suspend students with IDEA recognized exceptionalities and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and cease educational services for a total of up to 10 consecutive or 10 cumulative school days in one school year without providing special education procedural safeguards. Detentions do not count toward the 10-day limit. The Principal has discretionary flexibility in regards to the amount of days of suspensions given to each student with an IEP. Students with IEPs can be suspended in excess of 10 school days in certain circumstances. When campus officials anticipate a referral for expulsion, the following apply:
Provide written notice to the parent/guardian or surrogate parent of the intervention or consequence being considered and the date of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, which must be held within 10 days of the date of the decision to discipline the student.
The IEP team must:
- Determine whether the misconduct is related to the student’s disability by reviewing evaluation and diagnostic results, information from the parent/guardian, observations of the student, and the student’s IEP and placement. The behavior is not a manifestation of the student’s disability if:
- The student was given appropriate special education supplementary aids and intervention strategies; and
- The disability does not impair the ability to control behavior.
- A modification can be made so that the behavior plan is consistent with the IEP.
- Determine the appropriateness of an interim alternative educational setting, and as indicated, include in the IEP those services and modifications that will enable the student to continue to participate in the general curriculum and address the behavior so it will not recur.
Although the Section 504 regulations do not set a specific timeframe within which students with 504 plans must be reevaluated to make sure that they are receiving the appropriate services, Section 504 does require schools to conduct reevaluations periodically for students with 504s, especially before a significant change in placement. The Office of Civil Rights considers an exclusion from the educational program of more than 10 consecutive school days to be a significant change in placement. Therefore, even for students with 504 plans, the school must reevaluate prior to imposing the 11th day of suspension to determine whether the student’s misconduct is caused by or related to their 504 exceptionality (manifestation determination), and if so to further evaluate to determine if their current placement is appropriate.
While it is not anticipated and is extremely rare, students with IEPs may be referred for an expulsion hearing if they are in violation of any Zero Tolerance offense. All students will be ensured a due process expulsion hearing.
Community Conduct on Campus
All members of Explore’s community are expected to serve as strong examples for students and to treat all other members with respect. In the event that a caregiver or other community member demonstrates conduct that does not live up to this expectation (cursing, disrespect, etc.) they may be asked to leave campus immediately. In the event of disrespectful or abusive language or actions towards staff members or students, individuals may be barred from campus at the discretion of the school principal or designee.