Report | May 12, 2015

How Effective School Discipline Reform Cuts Crime

Classmates not Cellmates: a report that outlines how schools can reform their discipline policies

Take a look at school discipline in Jackson and Biloxi schools in Mississippi, and you’ll see the dawning of a whole new day. Building on a strong commitment to reduce suspensions and expulsions, schools throughout these communities are implementing research-based practices that effectively address problematic student behaviors within school environments. That way, students, particularly boys of color, can stay in school and on track for graduation and life success.

Although schools must have the authority to suspend, expel or take other school action when dealing with weapons offenses, violent crimes or drug sales, relatively minor offenses, such as talking back to a teacher or using inappropriate language, can be better addressed with alternatives to out-of-school suspensions, expulsions or referrals to special schools for student offenders.

This report, Classmates Not Cellmates, highlights seven strategies that schools can use to help students with challenging behavior before they come into contact with the principal or law enforcement. These approaches can help reduce suspensions and expulsions (and the number of students out on the streets) while ensuring that schools are safe and supporting improved learning outcomes.


  1. Mississippi