School Climate and Discipline

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CCSA is committed to working with our members to identify and implement policies, systems, and practices that will contribute to a more restorative and accountable approach to schoolwide discipline and student support in order to maximize opportunities and success for all students. Get more information here.

Defining the Challenge

Over the last several years, national research has explored into areas of restorative justice practices and suspensions rates. In order to better understand these issues, CCSA began work to investigate differences between charter and traditional public school suspension rates.

Researchers from CCSA formed a charter taskforce with member schools to better understand suspension practices, and to help ensure all California charter schools are as inclusive and effective as possible. The taskforce relied on publicly available data for all schools from the California Department of Education (CDE). Relying on public data also ensures the methodology could be replicated.


  • California's charter schools, on average, suspend students at the same or lower rates than do traditional public schools.
  • When looking at the past six years, we see no statistical difference school wide in average suspension rates for charters and traditional public schools.
  • When we break this down by grade level, we see similar rates for elementary schools. But for middle and high schools, we see that for the past three years charter schools have statistically significantly lower suspension rates than do traditional public schools.
  • Moreover, for every racial subgroup, the average rate of suspensions for charter schools is lower than traditional schools. In some cases, the differences are dramatic. For African American students, the out-of-school suspension rates in charter schools are only about half of traditional schools' suspension rates.

CCSA's Position on Restorative Justice Practices and Suspension Rates

CCSA agrees with US Department of Education's position on effective school discipline policy and practices, affirming that "Teachers and students deserve school environments that are safe, supportive, and conducive to teaching and learning. Creating a supportive school climate--and decreasing suspensions and expulsions--requires close attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of all students."(US Department of Ed)

Furthermore, CCSA believes if unfair suspension practices exist at individual charter schools, those schools should improve their policies and their authorizers should hold them accountable.

Learn More

Explore best practices, charter school spotlights and national tools, data and resources for creating a supportive school climate.

US DOE's #RethinkDiscipline campaign:

Browse More Resources in CCSA's Library

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