School Year Completion:

School the System

a game about public school discipline

- Begin -


You are a teacher and must help at-risk children in New York and Texas Public Schools stay in school. You will have to respond to infractions in accordance with real discipline codes from New York and Texas.

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Level 1

New York City, NY | Laurel Plains Elementary School

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You are a third grade teacher and today's lesson is about outer space! You know that Tim loves outer space, so you decide to call on him to share his thoughts with the class!

- Call on Tim -

As you go to call on Tim, you see him slip into class late. He has been late to class all week. According to page 20 of the NYC Discipline Code published in April 2015, being late for class is an infraction. Here are your options according to the code:

A. Parent Contact

B. Parent Contact + Student/Teacher Conference

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It's the end of the week and Math homework was due today. Collect and grade the homework during your lunch!

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As you are grading papers, it looks like Tim's homework is completely copied. According to NYC Discipline Code on page 21, copying work is a violation. Here are your options according to the code:

A. Guidance Conference

B. Guidance Conference + Referral to a Pupil Personnel Team (dedicated team to assess student's problems through multidisciplinary appraoches- includes a case manager and an individualized plan)

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It's a Friday afternoon and you have finished teaching the curriculum early. You've let the students work on their homework for the last twenty minutes of class.

- Check if anyone needs help -

You go to check on Tim and see him throwing an object at his classmate, Phil. Phil is throwing objects, too. According to NYC Discipline Code on page 23, engaging in confrontational behavior with another student or teacher is a violation. Here are your options:

A. Peer Mediation

B. Peer Mediation + Parent Conference

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It's the end of the year and the weather is warm! The students are out at recess playing on the playground and you are on hall duty.

- Make sure nobody is in the hallway -

You see Tim playing with his friend Marcha in the hallway. When you tell him to go back to the playground, Tim shouts at you, "You aren't the boss of me! Only my mom can tell me what to do!" According to the NYC Discipline Code on page 20, being rude to a teacher is a violation. Here are your options:

A. Collaborative Problem Solving (collaboratively coming to understand why the student is acting the way they are and coming to a joint decision on further plan of action)

B. Collaborative Problem Solving + Reprimand by Assistant Principal

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Level 2

San Antonio, Texas | Macarthur High School

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You are now a 9th grade Math teacher in Texas. Class has just started and you are teaching algebraic equations. You need some participation from the class.

- Call for a volunteer -

Juan comes up to the board to write down the equation from the homework. You notice that he has holes in his jeans. According to the Discipline Powerpoint Presentation, holes in jeans are strictly against the dress code. When you ask Juan to call his parents for a change of clothes, he tells you that he doesn't have any jeans without holes because his parents are too poor to afford new ones.
According to page 14 of the Macarthur High School Discipline Code Powerpoint Presentation, if a change of clothes cannot be found, the student MUST spend the day in in-school-suspension (ISS).

A. Send Juan to ISS

B. Let it slide

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It's a Wednesday afternoon and after a full day of teaching, you are parched!

- Go get some water -

On your way to the water fountain, you find Juan and Patrick physically fighting. You know from rumors around the school that Patrick is known for bullying Juan about his race and economic status. Juan throws a punch and hits Patrick in the face.
According to page 26 of Macarthur High School Discipline Code Powerpoint Presentation, fighting is strictly prohibited. However, since this was Juan's first offense, the punishment is less severe. Here are your options:

A. Send Juan to 5 days of ISS with Patrick

B. Let it slide

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It’s a Thursday morning and it’s almost time to start class. Today is a big day because you are helping the students prepare for a quiz.

- Pass out the practice quiz -

As you pass out the practice quiz, you find Juan sitting in the front row ready to learn. You are excited about his enthusiasm, but you realize that he’s wearing gang related clothing. Being in a gang is strictly prohibited according to page 28 of the 2015-16 Student Parent Handbook.
You pull Juan out to the hallway to discuss the infraction only to find out that he was feeling isolated by his peers and past experiences, so he joined a gang to feel like he had a sense of community.
Here are your options, according to the Student Parent Handbook:

A. Expulsion

B. Alternate Education Placement

C. Suspension

D. Let it slide

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It's a Friday afternoon near the end of the semester and you're exhausted. You've just finished class and don't have any more homework to grade.

- Go home -

As you are walking out the door, you see Juan selling marijuana to another student while on school property.
According to page 27 of the 2015-16 Student Parent Handbook, this is strictly prohibited.
Here are your options, according to the handbook:

A. Expulsion

B. Disciplinary Alternate Education Placement for at least 60 days

C. Let it slide

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- Continue -


- Scroll Down -
Can anyone win with a no-tolerance discipline code?

Tim had a difficult third grade year, but he learned positive, healthy ways of finding help and expressing his needs. Because of how you dealt with each infraction, per the mediative NYC policy, all of Tim's academic and personal needs were met so that he could be the best student he could be. Tim is now a great student and is excelling in school.

Juan struggled to stay in school because none of the base issues Juan faced were addressed, like poverty and social isolation. Because of this, Juan's issues compounded and escalated his poor behavior in school. While Juan no doubt struggled, the decisions you made as an administrator, per the no-tolerance Texas policy, never supported Juan to form and learn new, positive behaviors that would not only help him succeed in school, but also in U.S. society.

60% students in Texas public schools are expelled or suspended at least once in between 7th and 12th grade.
[view the facts here]

1 in 10 high school dropouts are in prison or a juvenille detention facility- compared to 1 in 35 high school graduates
[view the facts here]

76% people are rearrested within 5 years of being released from prison.
[view the facts here]

We need kids in school, not in prison.
What you can and should do:

As a parent or voter, you can...

Understand how no-tolerance policies affect children and maintain social inequalities.

Call your local schools and policy makers and urge them to opt for new discipline codes focused on mediative approaches.

As an educator, you can...

Urge your school and policy makers to opt for new discipline codes focused on mediative approaches.

Take the time to understand the whole issue that a student may face, not just their action alone.

Avoid using discipline codes as a classroom management strategy.