Creating Policies that Support a More Positive School Climate to Reduce Suspensions and Expulsions

Event Date: 
September 19, 2016 - 02:00pm to 03:30pm EDT

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education (ED)/Office of Safe and Healthy Students, the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) hosted the sixth and last Online Learning Event (OLE) for FY 2016, in which Bersheril Bailey (Senior Consultant, AIR), Polly Brainerd (Certified Prevention Specialist, Eaton RESA), Lauren Kazee (Mental Health Consultant, Michigan Departments of Education and Health and Human Services), and Steve Gabriel (Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services, Grande Ledge Public Schools) presented on how discipline policies in schools can positively impact school climate and reduce suspensions and expulsions.


In this online learning event, participants:

  • Explored the need for policy revision when new initiatives are considered for implementation
  • Reviewed State Board of Education Model Policy on Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion and Great Lakes Equity Center Policy Equity Analysis tool
  • Became familiar with an Alternatives to Suspension and Expulsion Toolkit to create a more positive school culture
  • Learned about experiences of selected schools that changed policy to implement new initiatives

About the Speakers

Polly Brainerd has been a Certified Prevention Specialist with Eaton RESA for the past 17 years working in and with schools on truancy, substance use, and violence prevention. She participated on the leadership team for the Safe and Supportive Schools grant through the Michigan Department of Education and assisted in the development of the Michigan State Board of Education Policy on Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions, the 2014 Michigan Model Code of Student Conduct, and the accompanying online Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions toolkit. She currently staffs the Clinton County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and coordinates the Stepping Up Together-Michigan Adolescent Pregnant and Parenting Program serving Lansing teens. Polly received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Michigan State University. 

Bersheril Bailey is a senior consultant at American Institutes for Research (AIR). She works with state education agencies and intermediate school districts to develop systems that increase academic achievement for all students. She provides technical assistance to build their capacity to design statewide systems of support as well as to ensure alignment and coherence of all components of the system. She works closely with the Michigan Department of Education to facilitate a collaborative, cross-office team to develop a state strategy to close the achievement gap. As a member of the department’s Dropout Challenge team, she has presented on the topic of dropout prevention at state and national conferences. Bailey has worked in elementary, middle, and high schools as a special education teacher, teacher consultant, assistant principal, director of alternative programs, and high school principal. She implemented and supervised Smaller Learning Communities and a magnet academy for mathematics, science, and engineering. Her most notable accomplishments include creating and supervising innovative high school programs for students who struggled to succeed in traditional high school settings. Bailey has extensive experience and training in classroom management and school improvement and in creating positive school climate and culture. She was chose Employee of the Year in 2006 by the superintendent and school board in her district. Bailey earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Michigan State University.

Lauren Kazee received her BSW in 1993 and her MSW in 1994 both from University of Illinois in Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work.  As a licensed professional, she worked in inner city Chicago as a therapist for children in foster care.  While living in Ohio and then later in Michigan she worked as a school social worker and continued as a therapist part-time.  Her work in the school system, lead her to an administration position where she currently serves as the Mental Health Consultant for the Michigan Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. She coordinates school mental health initiatives, including trainings, practice and policy development.

Steve Gabriel is the Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services at Grande Ledge Public Schools. The 2016-17 school year will be his 26th in Public Education.  This includes 10 years as an ELA teacher in Grades 7-8 and 14 years in building administration at the secondary level. his work experience includes time spent in: 

  • Lansing Public Schools, Lansing, MI,
  • Aldine Intermediate School District, Houston TX
  • South Haven Public Schools, South Haven, MI
  • Grand Ledge Public Schools, Grand Ledge, MI

Mr. Gabriel received from Michigan State University a B.A. in English with a minor in Psychology, an M.A. in Curriculum and Teaching, and is currently working on his Ed.D. from the same university.




Additional Resources for Discipline Policy Adaptation

Presenter Resources

Alternatives to Suspensions and Expulsions Toolkit

Michigan State Board of Education Model Code of Student Conduct

Great Lakes Equity Center: Policy Equity Analysis Toolkit

NCSSLE Resources

Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations

Addressing the Root Causes of Disparities in School Discipline: An Educator’s Action Planning Guide

U.S. Department of Education Resources 

Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources

Rethink Discipline Webpage

Dear Colleague Letter on School Resource Officers by ED and DOJ

Other Resources

Dignity in Schools Model Code of Conduct 

Advancement Project Model Policy