As racial tensions continue to transform our country, the expectations for an effective school discipline plan continue to plague our schools. Administrators have become the pinnacle transformational leaders which has become problematic. Schools can only implement an effective school discipline plan by empowering teachers which will avoid the tragic errors committed by the Charleston County School District (CCSD). 

According to the article, Live 5 Investigates: One year after new CCSD discipline plan, teachers have voiced there discontent with the proposed effective discipline plan. A recent Charleston Teacher Alliance Survey, revealed that “Only 12 percent of CCSD teachers agree that the district empowers them to maintain order and discipline in their classrooms. Only 19 percent agree that the Progressive Discipline Plan promotes high expectations for student conduct”. 

Administrators were forced to develop an effective school discipline plan due to the alarming inequalities associated with school discipline. For example, the article noted that “Black students [were] suspended at a rate of six times that of White students. Black students [had] the highest expulsion rate at the elementary and high school levels, while Hispanic students had the highest expulsion rate at the middle school level”. 

The primary error that CCSD administrators cultivated is their refusal to identify that their biggest challenge was associated with racism rather than policy. The new Progressive Discipline Plan focuses on bandaging the problem rather than responding to the root causes which is the negative racial relationships between teachers and students. 

Racial differences between teachers and students will influence an effective school discipline plan. Teacher-student conflicts result from a difference in desires, and even though this difference may be reduced, it remains in schools. The cultural differences are a result of attitudes, beliefs, and values about education, ideas about how classes ought to be conducted, how students and teachers ought to interact, and the types of racial relationships that are appropriate for students and teachers. The classroom conflict between teachers and students results from the different cultural contexts that students and teachers bring to the classroom. 

Another error that the CCSD embraced was the process that was utilized for transformational purposes. CCSD should have piloted the new initiative by empowering teachers. Pilot groups provide an incubation period for any new initiative. Utilizing a pilot group will ensure that before that new initiative is presented to the entire school district that all of the kinks are worked out. Furthermore, piloting the initiative provides an opportunity to develop teachers as leaders who in turn would become primary coaches and leaders for other schools.

Furthermore, empowering teachers has additional benefits. Empowering teachers enhances job satisfaction, raises expectations, increases the quality of work, increases collaboration, and increases productivity.

Empowering teachers enhances job satisfaction because it is frustrating to a teacher to know what’s right, but feel powerless to do anything.  Giving teachers some decision-making ability will decrease frustration and improve teacher retention.

Empowering teachers raises expectations because when a teacher is empowered, that teacher has higher expectations. When teachers expectations are raised, teachers will rise to extraordinary levels and can become the catalyst for the growth of an effective school discipline plan.

Teachers who are granted the power to take charge of a school initiative such as developing an effective school discipline plan, feel an increased sense of responsibility, accountability, and ownership for their work. They will work diligently to meet deadlines and school goals associated with the new initiative. They will feel energized enough to do what it takes to develop an effective school discipline plan and to do it right. All of these reasons fuel an empowered teacher to be more productive, providing better performance results for the school and school district.

However, all is not lost. The CCSD should divided the new initiative amongst the  primary levels of schools which are the elementary, middle, and high school. Take one school of each category along with a small group of teachers who feel that an effective school discipline plan is important. In the first meeting provide all of the information associated with developing an effective school discipline plan. Most importantly, the administrative leader needs to work with the teachers to develop a shared vision that focuses on what is best for the students. This will ensure that the initiative does not get side tracked. Finally, the process for developing an effective school discipline plan will involve the teachers working with students to ensure that the initiative is beneficial for students and all stakeholders.

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Preparing and Developing Culturally Responsive School Leaders


Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034


          Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

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“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”  ~ Tom Coleman ~ Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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