Members of the Central Valley Movement Building, a coalition that works with parents and education activists in regions of the Central Valley in California, are dismayed and concerned about the reported lack of confidence that Visalia Unified School District has in using Positive Behavior Intervention and Suports as a way to address disciplinary related issues in the classroom and schools.

The recently published article, the Visalia Times, titled “VUSD trustee: PBIS is broken, not worth fixing. Is he right?” raises more questions than it answers. Among the questions we have include:

  • What are parents and students saying about the reported incidents of misbehavior in schools?
  • What type of resources and supports (Third Tier) have schools been using to help students who are the most disruptive?
  • And how have schools and teachers tried to reach out to parents and invite them to be partners in creating a positive school climate?

We are aware that many teachers are calling for using school suspensions and expulsions as a form of behavior management, but research shows that these punitive policies and practices disproportionally impact Black and Brown students, and it means that the more time students miss school for whatever reason, the more likely those students will have difficulty graduating, and many will end up in juvenile detention centers or jails.

PBIS Properly Implemented

If PBIS is properly implemented it results in all students developing and learning social, emotional, and behavioral competence, which supports their academic engagement. Additionally, all educators develop positive, predictable, and safe environments that promote strong interpersonal relationships with students through teaching, modeling, and encouragement.

PBIS properly implemented also results in:

  • Reductions in major disciplinary infractions, antisocial behavior, and substance abuse
  • Reductions in aggressive behavior and improvements in emotional regulation.
  • Improvements in academic engagement and achievement
  • Improvements in perceptions of organizational health and school safety
  • Reductions in teacher and student reported bullying behavior and victimization
  • Improvements in perceptions of school climate
  • Reductions in teacher turnover

Examples of PBIS Resources

  • an on-site mental health clinic
  • art and music classes to help students express themselves
  • on-call support for teachers
  • ongoing professional training for teachers
  • behavior circles
  • student referrals to a psychologist or social worker
  • work and recreational supports for students
  • enrollment in a program teaching prosocial behavior or anger management participation in a restorative justice program
  • after-school programs that address special behavior issues or expose students to positive activities and behaviors
  • participation in an on-site or community-based restorative justice program

Our Recommendation

We think Visalia USD should review its PBIS programs, and actively partner with parents and community groups address issues of bullying, problems with classroom management, and other various complaints. No single solution will fix the problem.

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