Advertisement

Zero Tolerance School Policies

  • Kelly Welch
  • Allison Ann Payne
Chapter

Abstract

Zero tolerance in schools is a philosophical approach to discipline that generally mandates predetermined punitive consequences—most commonly expulsion and suspension—for violations of particular school rules, regardless of circumstances or situational context (Stinchcomb et al. 2006; Teske 2011), with the apparent intent to deter and prevent undesirable behavior (APA Zero Tolerance Task Force 2008; Mallett 2016). In the USA, these policies can be traced to the federal Gun-Free School Act of 1994, which sought to restrict weapons in schools, but expanded to include non-weapon related and non-violent behaviors. Now used in most schools in all fifty USA states, this disciplinary orientation has also expanded to a number of additional countries, including Britain and Canada. While zero tolerance has been widely criticized for having unintended consequences, such as alarming disparities that negatively affect poor and minority students, original supporters advocated greater fairness toward students, more consistent discipline, and violence prevention (Gorman and Pauken 2003; Henault 2001). Research, however, has yet to produce any evidence that zero tolerance policies have achieved these objectives. In fact, ample evidence suggests wide-ranging harm to students, schools, and communities. In this chapter, we describe and evaluate these aspects of zero tolerance policies in schools and offer recommendations for productive and thoughtful disciplinary alternatives. Finally, we make some suggestions for future research that may enhance our understanding of the impact of zero tolerance in schools.

References

  1. APA Zero Tolerance Task Force. (2008). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools?: An evidentiary review and recommendations. The American Psychologist, 63(9), 853–862.Google Scholar
  2. Beccaria, C. (2009). On crimes and punishments and other writings. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  3. Beger, R. R. (2002). Expansion of police power in public schools and the vanishing rights of students. Social Justice, 29(87), 119–130.Google Scholar
  4. Blake, J. J., Butler, B. R., & Smith, D. (2015). Challenging middle-class notions of femininity: The cause of black females’ disproportionate suspension rates. In D. J. Losen (Ed.), Closing the school discipline gap: Equitable remedies for excessive exclusion (pp. 75–88). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  5. Boccanfuso, C., & Kuhfeld, M. (2011). Multiple responses, promising results: Evidence-based, nonpunitive alternatives to zero tolerance. Child Trends. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/alternatives-to-zero-tolerance.pdf
  6. Brown, L. H., & Beckett, K. S. (2006). The role of the school district in student discipline: Building consensus in Cincinnati. The Urban Review, 38(3), 235–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Casella, R. (2003). Zero tolerance policy in schools: Rationale, consequences, and alternatives. Teachers College Record, 105(5), 872–892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, R. M. (2016, November 2). Rethinking school discipline. The American Prospect.Google Scholar
  9. Craik, F. I., & Bialystok, E. (2006). Cognition through the lifespan: Mechanisms of change. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(3), 131–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crews, F., He, J., & Hodge, C. (2007). Adolescent cortical development: A critical period of vulnerability for addiction. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 86(2), 189–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crick, N. R. (1997). Engagement in gender normative versus nonnormative forms of aggression: Links to social-psychological adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 33, 610–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Curran, F. C. (2015). Zero tolerance school discipline: Implications for schools, leaders, and students. Dissertation, Vanderbilt University.Google Scholar
  13. Fabelo, T., Thompson, M. D., Plotkin, M., Carmichael, D., Marchbanks, M. P., III, & Booth, E. A. (2011). Breaking schools’ rules: A statewide study of how school discipline relates to students’ success and juvenile justice involvement. New York: Council of State Governments Justice Center.Google Scholar
  14. Ferguson, A. A. (2000). Bad boys. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Findlay, N. M. (2008). Should there be zero tolerance for zero tolerance school discipline policies? Education Law Journal, 18(2), 103–143.Google Scholar
  16. Gardella, J. H. (2015). Restorative practices for school administrators considering implementation. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University.Google Scholar
  17. Giroux, H. A. (2003). Zero tolerance, domestic militarization, and the war against youth. Social Justice, 30(2), 59–65.Google Scholar
  18. Gonzalez, T. (2012). Keeping kids in schools: Restorative justice, punitive discipline, and the school to prison pipeline. Journal of Law & Education, 41(2), 281–335.Google Scholar
  19. Gorman, K., & Pauken, P. (2003). The ethics of zero tolerance. Journal of Educational Administration, 41(1), 24–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gottfredson, G. D., Gottfredson, D. C., Payne, A. A., & Gottfredson, N. (2005). School climate predictors of school disorder: Results from a national study of delinquency prevention in schools. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 42(4), 412–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gray-Adams, K., & Sinclair, B. (2004). Report on the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act in the states and outlying areas: School year 2001–2002. Final Report. Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  22. Gregory, A., & Cornell, D. (2009). ‘Tolerating’ adolescent needs: Moving beyond zero tolerance policies in high school. Theory into Practice, 48(2), 106–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gregory, A., & Weinstein, R. S. (2008). The discipline gap and African Americans: Defiance or cooperation in the high school classroom. Journal of School Psychology, 46(4), 455–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gregory, A., Bell, J., & Pollock, M. (2014, March). How educators can eradicate disparities in school discipline: A briefing paper on school-based interventions. Discipline Disparities Series: Interventions.Google Scholar
  25. Heilbrun, A., Cornell, D., & Lovegrove, P. (2015). Principal attitudes regarding zero tolerance and racial disparities in school suspensions. Psychology in the Schools, 52(5), 489–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Henault, C. (2001). Zero tolerance in schools. Journal of Law and Education, 30, 547.Google Scholar
  27. Henry, S. (2009). School violence beyond columbine: A complex problem in need of an interdisciplinary analysis. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(9), 1246–1254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoffman, S. (2014). Zero benefit estimating the effect of zero tolerance discipline polices on racial disparities in school discipline. Educational Policy, 28(1), 69–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hurley, N., Guckenburg, S., Persson, H., Fronius, T., & Petrosino, A. (2015). What further research is needed on restorative justice in schools? San Francisco: WestEd.Google Scholar
  30. Jones, K. (2013). #Zerotolerance #KeepingupwiththeTimes: How federal zero tolerance policies failed to promote educational success, deter juvenile legal consequences, and confront new social media concerns in public schools. Journal of Law and Education, 42, 739–749.Google Scholar
  31. Jull, S. (2000). Youth violence, schools, and the management question: A discussion of zero tolerance and equity in public schooling. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 17, 1–14.Google Scholar
  32. Kang-Brown, J., Trone, J., Fratello, J., & Daftary-Kapur, T. (2013). A generation later: What we’ve learned about zero tolerance in schools. New York: Vera Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  33. Karp, D. R., & Frank, O. (2015). Anxiously awaiting the future of restorative justice in The United States. Victims & Offenders, 11 (1) (2016), 50–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kauffman, J. M. (1999). How we prevent the prevention of emotional and behavioral disorders. Exceptional Children, 65(4), 448–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kaufman, P., Chen, X., Choy, S. P., Peter, K., Ruddy, S. A., Miller, A. K., Fleury, J. K., Chandler, K. A., Planty, M. G., & Rand, M. R. (2001). Indicators of school crime and safety, 2001 (Report no. NCES 2002-113/NCJ-190075). Washington, DC: U.S. Departments of Education and Justice.Google Scholar
  36. Kim, C. Y., Losen, D. J., & Hewitt, D. T. (2010). The school-to-prison pipeline: Structuring legal reform. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Kokkinos, C. M., Panayiotou, G., & Davazoglou, A. M. (2004). Perceived seriousness of pupils’ undesirable behaviours: The student teachers’ perspective. Educational Psychology, 24, 109–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kupchik, A. (2010). Homeroom security: School discipline in an age of fear. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kupchik, A. (2016). The real school safety problem: The long-term consequences of harsh school punishment. Oakland: The University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Kupchik, A., & Ellis, N. (2008). School discipline and security: Fair for all students? Youth & Society, 39(4), 549–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kupchik, A., & Monahan, T. (2006). The new American school: Preparation for post-industrial discipline. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27(5), 617–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kupchik, A., & Ward, G. (2014). Race, poverty, and exclusionary school security: An empirical analysis of U.S. elementary, middle, and high schools. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 12(4), 332–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lasnover, S. (2015). The early of effects of the removal of willful defiance from the discipline policy at urban high schools. Dissertation, University of California Los Angeles. Google Scholar
  44. Losen, D. J., Ee, J., Hodson, C., & Martinez, T. E. (2015). Disturbing inequities: Exploring the relationship between racial disparities in special education identification and discipline. In D. J. Losen (Ed.), Closing the school discipline gap: Equitable remedies for excessive exclusion (pp. 89–106). New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  45. Mallett, C. A. (2016). The school-to-prison pipeline: A critical review of the punitive paradigm shift. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 33(1), 15–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McCluskey, G., Lloyd, G., Kane, J., Riddell, S., Stead, J., & Weedon, E. (2008). Can restorative practices in schools make a difference? Educational Review, 60(4), 405–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Melton, G. B., Limber, S. P., Cunningham, P., Osgood, D. W., Chambers, J., Flerx, V., Henggeler, S., & Nation, M. (1998). Violence among rural youth: Final report. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.Google Scholar
  48. Morris, M. W. (2012). Race, gender, and the “school to prison pipeline”: Expanding our discussion to include black girls. African American Policy Forum. Retrieved from https://works.bepress.com/monique_morris/2/
  49. Morrison, B. (2007). Restoring safe school communities: A whole school response to bullying, violence and alienation. Leichhardt: Federation Press.Google Scholar
  50. Morrison, B. E., & Vaandering, D. (2012). Restorative justice: Pedagogy, praxis, and discipline. Journal of School Violence, 11(2), 138–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Morrison, B., Blood, P., & Thorsborne, M. (2005). Practicing restorative justice in school communities: Addressing the challenge of culture change. Public Organization Review, 5(4), 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Munro, G., & Midford, R. (2001). ‘Zero tolerance’ and drug education in Australian schools. Drug and Alcohol Review, 20(1), 105–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nichols, J. D. (2004). An exploration of discipline and suspension data. Journal of Negro Education, 73(4), 408–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Noguera, P. (1995). Preventing and producing violence: A critical analysis of responses to school violence. Harvard Educational Review, 65(2), 189–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Noguera, P. A. (2003). Schools, prisons, and social implications of punishment: Rethinking disciplinary practices. Theory into Practice, 42(4), 341–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Noguera, P. A. (2008). The trouble with black boys…and other reflections on race, equity, and the future of public education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  57. U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. (2014). 2011–2012 civil rights data collection definitions. Retrieved from http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/2011-12_Definitions.doc
  58. Payne, A. A. (2016). School climate and school crime: The translation gap between research and policy. Currently Unpublished Manuscript.Google Scholar
  59. Payne, A. A., & Welch, K. (2010). Modeling the effects of racial threat on punitive and restorative school discipline practices. Criminology, 48(4), 1019–1062.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Payne, A. A., & Welch, K. (2015). Restorative justice in schools: The influence of race on restorative discipline. Youth & Society, 47(4), 539–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Peguero, A. A., & Shakarkar, Z. (2011). Latino/a student misbehavior and school punishment. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 33, 54–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Penny, M. F. (2015). The use of restorative justice to resolve conflict in schools. Masters Thesis. Chicago: Governors State University.Google Scholar
  63. Potts, K., Njie, B., Detch, E. R., & Walton, J. (2003). Zero tolerance in Tennessee schools: An update. Nashville: Tennessee State Controller of the Treasury, Office of Educational Accountability.Google Scholar
  64. Ramey, D. M. (2015). The social structure of criminalized and medicalized school discipline. Sociology of Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038040715587114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rich, M. (2012, August 7). Suspensions are higher for disabled students, federal data indicate. The New York Times.Google Scholar
  66. Rich-Shea, A. M., & Fox, J. A. (2014). Zero-tolerance policies. In G. W. Muschert, S. Henry, N. L. Bracy, & A. A. Peguero (Eds.), Responding to school violence: Confronting the columbine effect (pp. 89–104). London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  67. Rideout, G., Roland, K., Salinitri, G., & Frey, M. (2010). Measuring the effect of restorative justice practices: Outcomes and contexts. EAF Journal, 21(2), 35.Google Scholar
  68. Rocque, M., & Paternoster, R. (2011). Understanding the antecedents of the ‘school-to-jail’ link: The relationship between race and school discipline. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 101, 633–665.Google Scholar
  69. Schiff, M. (2013). Dignity, disparity and desistance: Effective restorative justice strategies to plug the ‘school-to-prison pipeline.’ In Center for Civil Rights Remedies National Conference. Closing the School to Research Gap: Research to Remedies Conference. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  70. Schiraldi, V., & Ziedenberg, J. (2001). Schools and suspensions: Self-reported crime and the growing use of suspensions (Justice Policy Institute Policy Brief). Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute.Google Scholar
  71. Schoonover, B. J. (2009). Zero tolerance discipline policies: The history, implementation, and controversy of zero tolerance policies in student codes of conduct. New York: iUniverse, Inc.Google Scholar
  72. Sherman, L. W. (2003). Reason for emotion: Reinventing justice with theories, innovations, and research—The American Society of Criminology 2002 presidential address. Criminology, 41, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Skiba, R. J. (2014). The failure of zero tolerance. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 22(4), 27–33.Google Scholar
  74. Skiba, R. J., & Rausch, M. (2006). School disciplinary systems: Alternatives to suspension and expulsion. In G. G. Bear & K. M. Minke (Eds.) Children’s needs III: Development, prevention, and intervention. Washington, D.C: National Association of School Psychologists.Google Scholar
  75. Skiba, R., & Peterson, R. (1999). The dark side of zero tolerance: Can punishment lead to safe schools? The Phi Delta Kappan, 80(5), 372–382.Google Scholar
  76. Skiba, R. J., Arredondo, M. I., & Williams, N. T. (2014). More than a metaphor: The contribution of exclusionary discipline to a school to-prison pipeline. Equity & Excellence in Education, 47(4), 546–564.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Skiba, R. J., Michael, R. S., Nardo, A. C., & Peterson, R. L. (2002). The color of discipline: Source of racial and gender disproportionality in school discipline. The Urban Review, 34(4), 317–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Skiba, R., Reynolds, C. R., Graham, S., Sheras, P., Conoley, J. C., & Garcia-Vazquez, E. (2006). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. A Report by the American Psychological Associate Zero Tolerance Task Force.Google Scholar
  79. Skiba, R. J., Horner, R. H., Chung, C.-G., Rausch, M., May, S. L., & Tobin, T. (2011). Race is not neutral: A national investigation of African American and Latino disproportionality in school discipline. School Psychology Review, 40(1), 85-107.Google Scholar
  80. Stinchcomb, J. B., Bazemore, G., & Riestenberg, N. (2006). Beyond zero tolerance restoring justice in secondary schools. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4(2), 123–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Sumner, M. D., Silverman, C. J., & Frampton, M. L. (2010). School-based restorative justice as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies: Lessons from West Oakland. Berkeley: Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice.Google Scholar
  82. Taylor, E., & Rooney, T. (2017). Surveillance futures: Social and ethical implications of new technologies for children and young people. New York: Routeledge.Google Scholar
  83. Teske, S. C. (2011). A study of zero tolerance policies in schools: A multi-integrated systems approach to improve outcomes for adolescents. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 24(2), 88–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Vavrus, F., & Cole, K. M. (2002). “I didn’t do nothin’”: The discursive construction of school suspension. The Urban Review, 34(2), 87–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Verdugo, R. R. (2002). Race-ethnicity, social class, and zero-tolerance policies the cultural and structural wars. Education and Urban Society, 35(1), 50–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vincent, C. G., & Tobin, T. J. (2011). The relationship between implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) and disciplinary exclusion of students from various ethnic backgrounds with and without disabilities. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 19(4), 217–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wald, J., & Losen, D. J. (2003). Defining and redirecting a school-to-prison pipeline. New Directions for Youth Development, 99, 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Walker, K. (2009). Zero tolerance: Advantages and disadvantages. Research brief. ERIC Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED539007.
  89. Wallace, J. M., Jr., Goodkind, S., Wallace, C. M., & Bachman, J. G. (2008). Racial, ethnic, and gender differences in school discipline among US high school students: 1991–2005. The Negro Educational Review, 59(1–2), 47.Google Scholar
  90. Watts, I. E., & Erevelles, N. (2004). These deadly times: Reconceptualizing school violence by using critical race theory and disability studies. American Educational Research Journal, 41, 271–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Welch, K., & Payne, A. A. (2010). Racial threat and punitive school discipline. Social Problems, 57, 25–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Welch, K., & Payne, A. A. (2012). Exclusionary school punishment: The effect of racial threat on expulsion and suspension. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 10, 155–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Welch, K., & Payne, A. A. (2014). Racial implications of school discipline and crime. In G. W. Muschert, S. Henry, N. L. Bracy, & A. A. Peguero (Eds.), The Columbine effect: Fear and the expansion of school antiviolence policy. Boulder: Lynne Reinner Publishers.Google Scholar
  94. Wu, S.-C., Pink, W., Crain, R., & Moles, O. (1982). Student suspension: A critical reappraisal. The Urban Review, 14, 245–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Zehr, H. (2002). Journey to belonging. Restorative Justice: Theoretical Foundations, 21, 24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Welch
    • 1
  • Allison Ann Payne
    • 1
  1. 1.Villanova UniversityVillanovaUSA

Personalised recommendations