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Alternatives To Suspension

Alternatives To Suspension

Why should I do it:

  • Suspending kids is very unproductive for academics
  • Some kids get suspended on purpose to get out of work or away from something they do not want to cope or deal with
  • Suspensions are not an effective deterrent for many kids, who do not see it as a significant consequence or negative stimulus
  • Providing alternatives to suspensions can be much more effective in getting students’ behavior to change
  • There are many alternatives that motivate students better than suspending them

When should I do it:

  • When a student gets into trouble and suspended frequently
  • When a student is trying to get suspended on purpose or to get out of something
  • When students really need the instruction but a consequence or discipline is warranted
  • When suspensions do not seem to be doing anything and are ineffective

How do I do it:

  • There are various alternatives to suspension and ways to carry them out.
  • Always use a neutral tone and do not allow yourself to be drawn into power struggles.
  • Alternatives may be discussed with a student or students before implementing them
  • Some common alternatives include:
    • in-school suspension
    • school service (for example, assisting custodial staff with after school clean-up, lunch clean-up, etc)
    • mini course
    • parent supervision
    • counseling
    • community service
    • behavior monitoring
    • restitution
    • problem solving or behavior contract
    • alternative programming
    • loss of privileges (like lunch, recess, social time, etc)
    • time out
    • detention (before or after school)
    • mentoring (with a teacher, counselor, or other staff member before or after school)
    • behavioral contracts
    • send homes
    • referral to community mental health services
  • Refer to the resources below for more ideas and implementation

Resources & Support for technique:
(Items with footnotes link to external websites)


  1. McEvoy, C., Mendola, R. Alternatives to Suspension. [].
  2. North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute. (2005). Some Example Alternative to Suspension Programs in North Carolina Sponsored by Public Schools and Community Initiatives, North Carolina Child Advocacy Institute. [].
  3. Peterson, R. L. Ten Alternatives to Suspension. [].
  4. Rosch, J., Iselin, A. Alternatives to Suspension. [].
  5. Advancement Project. Alternatives to Suspension, Expulsion, and School-Based Arrest. [Originally located at but no longer available at]. [].
  6. David Crockett High School. Welcome to In-School Suspension Home [].
  7. Hrabak, Mary., Settles, Doris. Effective In-School Suspension Programs. [].
  8. Education World, INC. In-School Suspension: A Learning Tool. [].
  9. The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment. ALTERNATIVES TO OUT-OF-SCHOOL SUSPENSION. [].
  10. NC Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – Center for the Prevention of School Violence. (2003). Project EASE: (Educational Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion), Promising Strategies Document. [].
  11. Journal Sentinel Inc.. Suspension alternative. [].
  12. Demand Media, Inc. Alternatives to Expulsion, Suspension and Dropping Out of School. [].
  13. National Association of School Psychologists. Zero Tolerance. [].
  14. Morales, P., Mission, S., Miller, S. Alternative to In School Suspension (I.S.S.). [].
  15. Martinez, S., Sandomierski, T. (2010). Alternatives to Suspension. [].
  16. TRU Toolkit. Alternative To Suspension Referral Form. [].
  17. Otter, J. D. (2011). Alternatives to Suspension. [].