County Plan for Expelled and At-Risk Youth
The San Francisco County Office of Education (SFCOE) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) operate as a single entity managed by one superintendent and Board of Education. SFCOE serves high-risk youth who are expelled or at risk of being expelled through a coordinated, proactive and responsive system of strategies and supports that serve as a safety net to ensure equitable opportunities for student access and achievement in our traditional schools or alternative educational programs.
Building a safe and supportive school community based on guiding principles and high expectations – including the belief that each and every student can and will thrive given the attention they deserve - is a priority for SFUSD.
This priority extends to SFCOE, including community and court school programs and activities. SFCOE operates three alternative educational programs for county schools: a court school, a county community school, and an opportunity school. For expelled youth, for students who are in educational crisis and building their capacity in their education and alternative school setting, and prevent youth from dropping out by being a support system to ensure their education is successful.
In that spirit, this triennial plan for expelled and at risk youth for the San Francisco County Office of Education will focus on sharing SFUSD’s guiding principles and behavior expectations aligned with our Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution (SSSR), outlining some of our SSSR best practices and interventions to date, providing a description of existing educational alternatives for expelled youth, and identifying alternative placements for pupils who are expelled and placed in district community day school programs/those who fail to meet terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan. The plan will also describe County and District educational service gaps for expelled youth with possible solutions for filling those gaps.
San Francisco County Office of Education: San Francisco County Plan for Expelled and At-Risk Youth FY 2021-24
California Education Code Section 48926 requires that each county superintendent of schools in counties that operate community schools pursuant to Section 1980, in conjunction with superintendents of the school districts within the county, shall develop a plan for providing education services to all expelled pupils in that county. The plan shall be adopted by the governing board of each school district within the county and by the county board of education.
The plan shall enumerate existing educational alternatives for expelled pupils, identify gaps in educational services to expelled pupils, and strategies for filling those service gaps. The plan shall also identify alternative placements for pupils who are expelled and placed in district community day school programs, but who fail to meet the terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan or who pose a danger to other district pupils, as determined by the governing board.
Each county superintendent of schools, in conjunction with the superintendents of the school districts, shall submit to the Superintendent of Public Instruction the county plan for providing educational services to all expelled pupils in the county shall submit a triennial update to the plan to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The San Francisco County Office of Education (SFCOE) and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) operate as a single entity managed by one Superintendent and Board of Education. SFCOE serves high risk youth who are expelled or at risk of being expelled, through a coordinated, proactive and responsive system of strategies and supports that serve as a safety net to ensure equitable opportunities for student access and achievement in our traditional schools or alternative educational programs.
Building a safe and supportive school community based on guiding principles and high expectations – including the belief that each and every student can and will thrive given the attention they deserve - is a priority for SFUSD’s 64 elementary schools (PreK-5), 8 alternatively configured schools (K-8), 13 middle schools (6-8), 19 high schools (9-12), 16 transitional kindergarten schools and 13 active charter schools authorized by the district with a total enrollment of approximately 50,000 students.
This priority extends to the San Francisco County Office of Education (SFCOE), including community and court school programs and activities. SFCOE operates three alternative educational programs: a court school, a community school, and an opportunity school. These programs are for expelled youth, for students who are in educational crisis and building their capacity in their education and alternative school setting, and prevent youth from dropping out by being a support system to ensure their education is successful.
The student expulsion rates remain at less than 1% of total enrollment (approximately 50,000 total students – with over half of all students in the Middle and High School grades).
The triennial plan for expelled and at risk youth for the San Francisco County Office of Education will focus on sharing SFUSD’s guiding principles and behavior expectations aligned with our Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution (SSSR), outlining some of our SSSR best practices and interventions to date, providing a description of existing educational alternatives for expelled youth, and identifying alternative placements for pupils who are expelled and placed in district community day school programs/those who fail to meet terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan. The plan will also describe County and District educational service gaps for expelled youth with possible solutions for filling those gaps.
California Education Codes that Support the Plan
Education Code §48916.1 Each county superintendent of schools in counties that operate community schools pursuant to §1980, in conjunction with superintendents of school districts within the county, shall develop a plan for providing education services to all expelled pupils in that county.
Education Code §48916.1 At the time an expulsion of a pupil is ordered, the governing board of the school district shall ensure that an educational program is provided to the pupil who is subject to the expulsion order for the period of the expulsion, but only to the extent funds are appropriated for this purpose in the annual Budget Act or other legislation or both.
Education Code §48926 Provides specifically that: The plan shall enumerate existing educational alternatives for expelled pupils, identify gaps in educational services to expelled pupils, and strategies for filling those service gaps. The plan shall also identify alternative placements for pupils who are expelled and placed in district community day school programs, but who fail to meet the terms and conditions of their rehabilitation plan or who pose a danger to other district pupils, as determined by the governing board.
SFUSD/SFCOE’s Guiding Principles and Expectations for Student Behavior
The SFUSD Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution supports a variety of recommendations and provisions that underscore the most effective alternative to suspension and expulsion as the prevention of concerning behaviors and poor decisions through the intentional creation of a positive, relationship-based school community. In spring of 2014, the Board of Education adopted the Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution (SSSR). Through this resolution, SFUSD has committed to providing staff with tools to positively engage students through full implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (SWPBIS) and Restorative Practices (RP), including Trauma-informed Practices that establish high behavior expectations of students in a bias free and culturally competent school community.
These practices are designed to create safe and supportive schools and to address the disproportionate suspension of African American and Latino students, as well as any other group of students that is disproportionately disciplined. SWPBIS is a research-based, highly-effective behavioral framework that is defined within SFUSD as the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework for teaching and reinforcing students’ social, emotional, and academic learning skills in order to sustain academic achievement, as well as support the mental and emotional well-being of all students. Restorative Practices is integrated into the SWPBIS framework at all levels and engages staff and students in creating safe spaces for developing supportive relationships, establishing class and school community agreements, and building social and emotional skills. When school staff understand the impact of trauma as they implement SWPBIS and Restorative Practices, they are better able to depersonalize student reactions and behaviors and de-escalate incidents, support students’ social and emotional development, and prevent re-traumatization. Our mission is to ensure these strategies are implemented with a culturally responsive lens that looks at the individual strengths of students and families and respects their cultural background and heritage.
The District is committed to supporting students through behavior interventions and alternatives to dismissal, suspension or other sanctions that require removal from the educational setting in all cases except those where the immediate safety of students or staff is threatened or the behavior in question is such that the disruption to the educational environment can only be remedied by transition to best school setting or program to support student access and achievement.
Some of the most significant policy changes adopted by the SSSR include the requirements for schools to implement School Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) and Restorative Practices (RP). As part of the resolution the following activities have been implemented:
- Develop and provide access to training content for school site staff in the areas of trauma informed practices, behavior de-escalation support, implicit bias and stereotype, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer sensitivity and other cultural competency training;
- Develop a Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Discipline Matrix that provides positive and supportive interventions that must be exhausted and documented prior to issuing a suspension (except in limited circumstances involving safety);
- Prohibit suspension or recommendation for expulsion solely on the basis of willful defiance/disruption under CA EC 48900(k);
- Prohibit “undocumented suspensions,” which means that students cannot be sent home for disciplinary reasons without the required suspension documentation;
- Provide credentialed intensive supervision, behavioral counseling and schoolwork completion for students who receive a teacher suspension;
- Collect and analyze discipline data to inform disciplinary practices and procedures, and report aggregate data through annual presentations to the Board of Education (February 2020 and April 2021)
- Provide information to families and students in the Student and Family Handbook in Chapter 5 - Student Behavior and Chapter 6 - Discipline;
- Provide extra support and intervention to schools with significantly greater disproportionate suspension, and require that principals consult with their
- Assistant Superintendent to ensure that alternative interventions in the Matrix have been exhausted and documented prior to suspension of African American students (or other student group identified by data as the most disproportionately disciplined group);
- Develop a process for students and parents to appeal for redress if SWPBIS or RP have not been implemented at their school site.
SFUSD SSSR Best Practices and Interventions to Date
Many school-wide programs and interventions are already in place in SFUSD that enhance a sense of positive community within the schools, teach conflict resolution, and build skills that foster positive student behavior and sense of belonging.
Examples of these behavior supports and interventions include but are not limited to:
- Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)-based on results of Functional Behavior Assessment;
- Behavior Intervention Services (BIS) Counseling;
- Behavioral Response to Intervention (BRTI)-multi-tiered systems of support;
- Check In, Check Out- mentor based behavioral intervention;
- Class Pass- allows a student to have a predetermined amount of “break” passes;
- Cultural Competency or Cultural Responsiveness Teaching & Student Support;
- Crisis Prevention and Intervention via Safety Care Response Protocol;
- Environmental Observation Process;
- Home Visit - meet families/parents “where they’re at”/deeper connections;
- Peer Mediation - restorative conversation led by peers;
- Positive Behavior Contract with Incentives- co-developed by students & school staff;
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS)- schoolwide framework;
- Positive Peer Reporting-Tier 2 behavioral intervention whereby a student is selected as a recipient of positive comments from peers for a day;
- Restorative Practice (RP) Conference-for students, families or the school community;
- Self-Monitoring - student controlled/managed daily behavior chart with goals/incentives;
- Student Assistance Program (SAP)- A site-based team that make data-based decisions about how to intervene when students present a need for increased academic or behavioral support;
- School Home Note- teacher developed daily behavior chart that’s sent home; ✓
- Skills Group or Intensive Skills Group- group lessons targeting specific need areas;
- Therapeutic Behaviors Support (TBS)-advanced behavioral support services by CBO;
- Wrap Around Services: advanced assistance for students/families and may include supports both at home and in the school environment.
In addition, SFUSD developed a three-tiered Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Discipline Matrix that provides evidence-based supports and interventions that can be used to address unwanted student behaviors in a pro-social, preventative and productive and educational manner. The Matrices provide suggested interventions, but do not limit school site development of their own additional interventions and strategies that prove effective in building community and addressing unwanted student behaviors without resorting to removal from the educational environment. Successful disciplinary practices should ensure that students have the opportunity to continue to be engaged in their school community and to reflect upon and learn from their mistakes. The Matrices are also a tool for all stakeholders (students, families, certificated and non-certificated staff, and community) to share a common understanding of the District’s high behavior expectations and responses for adults and students. Finally, the Matrices were also designed to address disproportionate suspension of African American and Latino students, by helping school sites to identify appropriate and effective alternative approaches to punitive discipline, and to build in consistency in school site disciplinary responses to similar types of behavior.
To achieve these goals, there are aspects of the Matrices that are MANDATORY. If a principal or site administrator determines that a particular student behavior warrants suspension, the school is required to EXHAUST AND DOCUMENT the recommended interventions listed in the Matrix before issuing such a suspension. In summary, suspensions are generally a last resort and shall not be utilized except in the following circumstances:
- A student may be suspended on a first offense if the principal determines that the student violated 48900(a)- (e), or that the student’s conduct causes a danger to person; Immediate suspension and expulsion referral are mandatory for offenses listed under Education Code 48915;
- Suspension is otherwise only permissible if the school team has exhausted and documented the mandatory interventions listed in the relevant Matrix and determines that suspension is the appropriate response.
Also, the SSSR requires that prior to suspension of an African American student [or any other group that District data identifies as the most disproportionately referred for discipline] under this provision, the school must contact the Assistant Superintendent or designee, who will ensure that the Matrix interventions have been exhausted and documented. The Matrices are organized based on three types of persistent student behaviors:
- Behaviors Involving Defiance/Disruption - Potentially disruptive classroom behaviors may include: Failure to follow directions, being off task, talking back, use of profanity, graffiti on desk or in books, being out of seat, late arrival to class, or not having materials or supplies
- Primary Matrix: Behaviors Involving Property; Harassment/Bullying/Hazing; Threats; Drugs, Alcohol or Tobacco; Violence or Weapons
- Matrix for Behavior Requiring Intensive Intervention - The SAP Team will convene as soon as possible after an incident to create a long term plan based on data review and utilizing research-based interventions. Some of these offenses require Required suspension and expulsion referral. These include possession of a firearm or explosive, brandishing a knife, selling drugs or sexual battery or sexual assault. (CA Education Code 48915(c)). Additionally, if the principal determines that there is a danger to persons, s/he may suspend on a first offense. Notwithstanding suspension or expulsion referral, the school or county community school serving the student should still refer to this guide to identify appropriate interventions and supports.
To use the matrices, the site administrator and/or Student Assistance Program (SAP) team would locate the Matrix that addresses the specific student behavior at issue, and follow the instructions depending on whether the behavior is a first, second or third or more out-of-class referral.
Schools that have failed to exhaust and document the MANDATORY interventions cannot subsequently decide to suspend/expel a student for the behavior. [This does not apply to mandatory offenses under EC 48915(c) or situations where the principal determines there is a danger to persons]. A parent or guardian’s unwillingness to participate in a restorative conversation or other interventions will not prevent the team from moving forward with interventions and support.
This Matrix includes a section with suggested classroom interventions for the teacher, because these offenses include behaviors that may be addressed in the classroom without removing the student from the educational setting, as well as behaviors that may result in out of class referral, such as when the safety of students or staff is threatened, or the disruption to the educational environment can only be remedied by referral to counselors or administrators. This Matrix therefore provides suggested
interventions for both the classroom teacher and for counselors, administrators, School Social Workers, or SAP Team.
Educational Opportunities for Expelled Students Provided by SFUSD/COE
Although SFUSD remains committed to exhausting all researched based interventions, as well as developing new strategies that support pro-social, positive and responsive approaches to negative behaviors, expulsion may be implemented as a last resort. In any case, SFUSD exercises additional steps during the expulsion process to ensure due process, thorough analysis and equitable access to educational opportunities for students and families including:
- Suspended expulsion with placement at the same school;
- Suspended expulsion with placement on a different school campus within SFUSD - voluntary transfer with parent agreement
- Suspend expulsion with placement in an alternative school
- Expulsion with placement in an SFCOE County School
SFUSD/COE Existing Educational Alternatives for Expelled Youth
The majority of students expelled from SFUSD are placed at Civic Center Secondary School. Students can also be served at one of several satellite campuses: CARE
Bayview, CARE Buchanan, and Youth Chance High School. These programs partner with SFUSD as small dropout prevention programs that help reintegrate expelled students who have left the school district. County community schools serve as an additional safety net for youth whose temporary circumstances require specialized supports and structures. County community schools focus on addressing the unique needs of their students and building the skills they will need for their next transition. San Francisco County students receive regular SFUSD credits.
- Civic Center Secondary School is a county community school serving students grades 7 through 12. Civic Center Secondary School provides educational services to students in grades 7-12 who are assigned due to expulsion proceedings or assigned by the Juvenile Probation or Court. The school seeks to break the prison pipeline by providing a caring and safe educational space where building relationships is the focus. Civic Center provides a fully personalized learning environment where every student has an Individual Learning Plan with academic, social emotional and transition goals and extremely small student to teacher ratio averaging 4:1. Special Education, Counseling, and Wellness services are fully integrated into classroom instruction. The school provides support for job and career readiness, substance use awareness and individual case management. Civic offers Plan 3 & plan 4 and SFUSD Diploma options.
- The Center for Academic Re-entry and Empowerment (CARE). Located inside of and operated in partnership with the Bayview and Buchanan YMCAs, C.A.R.E. provides individualized support services for truant and dropped out youth who have not enjoyed success in a traditional school setting. Students attending this program can re-acclimate themselves to the academic experience and develop resilient life skills. Each student develops an individualized Path to Graduation and begins earning credits to get back on track to earn a high school diploma or GED.
- Youth Chance HS supports students working students to complete their high school educational, expand their job skills, and develop their interpersonal network. Academics and life skills are integrated into an interdisciplinary curriculum that engages students with the city as their classroom. Students are referred to the program through the Juvenile Probation Department as well as Pupil Services.
SFUSD When appropriate, SFUSD suspends the enforcement of an expulsion order to allow a student to be placed in a district school during the term of expulsion.
Some charter and private schools in San Francisco define their mission as working with previously unsuccessful students. While no formal agreement exists to admit expelled youth, individual expelled youth attend local charter and private schools, especially 5 Keys, Life Learning Academy and Youth Chance High School (YMCA at Embarcadero).
The SFCOE also uses effective resources for early intervention strategies or proactive strategies for expelled youth, which include:
- Transition Support
- Counseling Enriched Classrooms
- Social Emotional Learning
- One-on-one counseling
- Special education services
- Conflict management
- Parent support meetings for behavioral intervention practices
Gaps & Strategies to “Fill” in Support of Educational Services for Expelled Youth
- Gap: Services to transition students through the expulsion process including returning to district school after expulsion or recommendation for expulsion. Strategies include beginning in fall 2021, Transition Specialists will begin case managing all students referred for expulsion through the expulsion process and until fully transitioned to their post-expulsion school setting.
- Gap: Transportation services for expelled and voluntary students at county community schools. Expelled youth often have complex safety needs with implications for their safe passage too and from school. In many cases families are unable to provide transport, public transit is a safety risk and special education transportation, when available, carries too high a stigma. Strategies include providing individual transportation for expelled youth who need it, possibly through a CBO partner or contracted to a student transportation firm with an automotive fleet.
As mentioned earlier, one of SFUSD/SFOE’s top priorities is to create and sustain safe and supportive schools for each and every student and family. We believe our diverse and responsive practices thus far have increased our ability to keep this promise. At the same time, we strive to continue to explore additional and equitable strategies, services and programming that will provide the best educational experiences and opportunities for our most at-risk youth and their families.
Triennial Plan adopted by the Board of Education on December 14.2021