Handbook - Discipline

Discipline Responses | Interventions and Responses to Student Behavior | Disciplinary Process and Procedures | Alternative Learning Centers for Expelled Students | Probation ContractsTennessee Teacher Discipline Act 

MNPS Discipline Philosophy

Discipline is the opportunity to intervene, teach, and shape the future of the student. Discipline should be administered with equity, dignity, freedom from bias and respect for all parties.

Student Disciplinary Practices and Procedures

Rules and behavioral expectations designed to promote a healthy environment for all participants are hallmarks of an orderly and democratic society. Monitoring and meeting those expectations are the responsibility of all who participate.

Discipline is to be viewed not as an opportunity to punish, but rather as an opportunity to teach appropriate behaviors and restore the student to the school community. We are not only responsible for contributing to students' intellectual development, but also for their social and emotional development.

As you review this information, remember that the well-being of each student individually and all children collectively is our greatest consideration.

Discipline Responses

Toxic stress and traumatic events faced by students outside of the school setting can impact brain development and health, availability for learning, and behavior. In fact research shows that, in comparison to students with no known Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), students with three or more ACEs are three times more likely to experience academic failure, five times more likely to have chronic absenteeism, six times more likely to have serious school disciplinary concerns, and four times more likely to exhibit somatic health complaints (e.g., headache, stomach ache).

Students and staff are expected to demonstrate mutual respect for themselves and others at all times. When students are disruptive or act inappropriately, school staff and principals are expected to respond logically, appropriately and consistently. The MNPS Discipline Table describes five types of behavior, increasing in seriousness from a Type 1 behavior to a Type 5 behavior. For example, a dress code violation is a Type 1 behavior, while bringing a firearm to school is a Type 5 behavior.

The Discipline Table also includes five levels of possible responses to inappropriate behavior (Levels A through E) and an additional potential response (Level T) for behavior on the bus. Each behavior is assigned to one or more of these levels of intervention and response. Principals and school staff may use only the levels provided for each behavior. Only one response letter may be chosen. Responses and interventions are to be progressive. If a behavior is assigned to two or more levels of response, the lowest level of intervention should be used for the first occurrence of behavior.

When choosing a higher-level response within the range of possible responses, an administrator must consider:

  • the student's age, health, disability, decision-making ability and prior intervention history
  • the student's willingness to repair the harm
  • the seriousness of the act
  • the harm caused or the potential to cause harm, including any injuries caused
  • the extent of actual disruption to the learning environment

An administrator must clearly document the reasons for using the selected response by citing the factors above in the discipline referral. In each case, MNPS administrators and staff will ensure consequences applied will minimize the amount of instructional time lost. Suspensions and expulsions are measures of last resort. An administrator is never required to expel a student unless the behavior is a Type 5 Zero Tolerance Offense.

MNPS does not engage in expulsion or suspension practices for Pre-K students ages 3, 4, and 5. TCA reference Suspension/Expulsion Policies and/or Procedures for 3-, 4-, and 5-Year-Old Students (34 CFR § 300.530; T.C.A. § 49-6-3024).

Type 4 Behaviors (400 level) may include an out-of-school option for grades K-5. Except for Type 5 behaviors, law enforcement will not be called to make an arrest for elementary students.

"Informal" suspensions—suspensions that are not documented in the student management system (Infinite Campus)—are prohibited. A parent may not be called to pick up their student for disciplinary or behavioral reasons unless the incident and the suspension are documented. Parents must be provided a copy of the student's discipline referral when a suspension occurs.

Unless otherwise noted, all codes apply to behavior at school, on the bus, or at school-sponsored activities.


Interventions and Responses to Student Behavior

School discipline is best accomplished by preventing misbehavior before it occurs; and using positive, safe, and respectful interventions after it occurs in an effort to promote new, more adaptive skills and prevent future challenging behaviors.

Schools must balance accountability with an understanding of the origins of challenging behavior, including an understanding of the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress on behavior. Training about ACEs and Trauma-Informed School Practices is recommended and readily available for all schools. Schools should incorporate a trauma-sensitive approach within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) that incorporates positive behavior interventions and supports, restorative practices, and social emotional learning foundations at the Tier 1 universal level of prevention.

The essential Tier 1 practices are:

  • SEL integrated into the curriculum 
  • Data-based decision making team 
  • Establish school-wide expectations 
  • Establish, model and teach expectations in the classroom and other locations 
  • Multiple opportunities for practice and reinforcement of expected behaviors 
  • Preventative and proactive discipline plans 
  • Logical and restorative discipline 
  • Community gathering/morning meeting for 15-20 minutes daily 
  • Regulation area in each room 
  • Mindfulness-based brain breaks (in schedule twice a day) 
  • Ongoing professional development 
  • Evaluation of implementation fidelity at least twice a year 

After challenging behavior warranting disciplinary action occurs, schools should draft and implement individualized student success plans (Tier 2) or behavior intervention plans (Tier 3) that explicitly include trauma-informed strategies with an emphasis on positive relationships and emotional and behavioral regulation. Examples may include pairing students with supportive adult mentors and teaching and practicing stress reduction/regulation skills to promote self-management. Trauma-informed specialists, psychologists, behavior analysts (behavior support team and exceptional education coaching team), restorative practices specialists, and social-emotional learning specialists are available to assist school staff with development of individual student plans.

A restorative and consistent approach is preferable to utilizing suspension and expulsion. Suspension and expulsion are never required, except for Type 5 offenses. Length of in-school suspension (ISS) and out-of-school suspension (OSS) may not exceed the days allowed in this handbook. 

The MNPS Discipline Tables describe types of behavior, increasing in seriousness from a Type 1 to a Type 5 behavior, and the different levels of possible interventions and responses to those behaviors.
Discipline Tables


Disciplinary Process & Procedures

Alternative Learning Centers for Expelled Students

Alternative Learning Centers (ALC) are available for elementary, middle and high school students who have been expelled (suspension of more than 10 days). Attendance for expelled elementary, middle and high school students is mandatory. Please contact the Discipline Office at 615-259-8757 for placement.

Students in grades K-4 are subject to suspension and/or expulsion of up to one calendar year for violation of codes listed in the Student Parent Handbook. Students in grades K-4 who are in violation of a Zero Tolerance infraction or are recommended for expulsion are required to have an expedited review of their disciplinary record. The executive director of student discipline or designee, will conduct an expedited review of the case and make a recommendation for further action. Any student recommended for expulsion following the expedited review process will be referred to the Department of Support Services Discipline Office for a Level 1 disciplinary appeal hearing if requested by parent or guardian. Students in grades K-4 who have been expelled for up to one calendar year will be assigned to an ALC specified for elementary age children.

Probation Contracts

Principals/designees have the right to place a student on a school-based probation without notification to the Department of Support Services Discipline Office. The time and conditions of the probation will be clearly stated. School-based probation is separate and apart from probation issued by the Department of Support Services Discipline Office. Probation contracts will not exceed one calendar year.

Teacher Discipline Act

The Teacher Discipline Act, in effect since January 1, 2022, says, in part: 

Teachers may submit a written request to the principal requesting the removal of a student who repeatedly or substantially violates the Code of Conduct and interferes with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with the class or with the ability of other students to learn. A request will only be granted with proof of prior documented interventions. Students, and a parent or guardian, will be notified in writing of a teacher’s request. Documentation of prior interventions must be included.

Principals, or their designee, will make the initial determination on a teacher’s request after providing the student the opportunity to explain their actions. If the teacher’s request is approved, the student will be removed from class. If the teacher’s request is denied, a teacher may appeal the decision within five (5) days of being notified to the executive director. The student will remain in the teacher’s class pending appeal.