Between 2009 and 2011, enrollment in Denver schools rose six percent. But even with an increased number of students, expulsions dropped 44 percent, from 185 to 104.
That’s because the school district has adopted alternatives to zero-tolerance, such as restorative justice and conflict resolution, which seek to defuse and resolve disciplinary issues before they rise to a level demanding expulsion.
For example, de-escalation techniques can help a teacher handle a student who acts out or curses. Handling the situation in the classroom allows the student to remain in class and continue his or her education, and it reduces unnecessary reliance on the justice system to handle school misbehavior.
Out-of-school suspensions have also dropped 21 percent.
These alternative techniques are essential to a more cost-efficient and effective school discipline system. The Texas Public Policy Foundation highlighted some of these techniques, as well as the ineffectiveness of zero tolerance, in recently research.