Adopting Non-Exclusionary Discipline Practices: The First Steps Are the Most Confusing

Athanase Gahungu
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Two years after the State of Illinois enacted an extensive non-exclusionary discipline reform in schools, 322 key discipline gatekeepers were surveyed about the extent and impact of the new state policy. The results showed that several core provisions of the reform had not been fully implemented or addressed through professional development. Creating re-entry plans for students with long suspensions, eliminating zero tolerance policies, and limiting disciplinary transfers to alternative schools were the least implemented provisions. Furthermore, contrary to principals’ conservative self-reporting, large proportions of school personnel still had not received required professional development in key topics such as (a) adverse consequences of school exclusion and justice-system involvement, (b) culturally responsive discipline, and (c) developmentally appropriate disciplinary methods that promote positive and healthy school climate. Finally, differences were revealed between principals and other gatekeepers regarding satisfaction with, and impact of the implementation. Sharp differences were found between principals, on one hand, and teachers and support personnel, on the other hand, about the continuing prevalence and high frequency of discipline incidents, and about improvement in the overall school climate. If the reform is going to be impactful, it was recommended that more emphasis be placed on ensuring that teachers and support personnel receive adequate and timely professional development on the provisions of the policies. 


Discipline Gatekeepers, Non-Exclusionary Discipline, Implementation, Illinois Schools, Survey

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Gahungu, A. (2021). Adopting non-exclusionary discipline practices: The first steps are the most confusing. International Journal on Social and Education Sciences (IJonSES), 3(2), 379-393.



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