Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Legislative Guidance and Support Regarding Discipline

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Learning Services
Regulatory Authority
Acts 640, 709, 1029, and 557 of 2019
Response Required
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Teachers; Curriculum Coordinators; School Counselors; Equity Coordinators (Disability/Race/Gender/National Origin); Data Stewards (SIS; eSchool; eFinance; TRIAND); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster)

Primary Contact Information

Secondary Contact/s Information

Memo Reference

No references available.

Memo Text

During the 2019 Legislative session, several Acts were passed regarding discipline and the provision of services to students. The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provides the following guidance and resources districts may consider when reviewing and implementing these Acts. 

New Requirements for School District Discipline Policies 

ACT 640

Act 640 amended existing statutes regarding school district discipline policies. Amendments include requiring a school district’s personnel policy committee to review annually the school district’s student discipline policies and state and district discipline data. Data should be used to inform the district’s policies and supports needed. The personnel policy committee may recommend changes based on the review. 

School policy should prescribe the minimum and maximum penalties for offenses, including suspension or expulsion. However, the superintendent shall have discretion to modify the prescribed penalties for a student on a case-by-case basis, regardless of the offense. 

School policies should also include programs, measures, or alternative means and methods to continue student engagement and access to education during periods of suspension or expulsion. ACT 709 requires that students that are expelled be offered a digital or alternative option (more information below).

Alternative Education

School discipline policy shall include provisions for placement of a student with disciplinary, socially dysfunctional, or behavioral problems that are not associated with a physical or mental impairment or disability, in an alternative learning environment provided by the district. Behavioral problems include being at risk of not satisfactorily completing a high school education.

District policy for consideration of placement in a district’s Alternative Learning Environment program shall follow placement procedures as outlined in section 4.02 of the “Student Special Needs Funding” rules.

A description of Alternative Learning Environment opportunities shall be described in the student services section of a district’s student handbook and in the district policy manual.  

New Digital Learning Courses Offered to Expelled Students

ACT 709 

Act 709 revised the Digital Learning Act to require districts to offer students who have been expelled digital learning courses, or other alternative educational options, to receive academic credits that are at least equal to credit that the expelled student may have received if still enrolled. 

Digital Options to consider:

Approved Digital Providers

If a student accepts the digital or alternative offering and the district is responsible for the teacher of record, then the district would mark the Resident Code as Code 9 within eSchoolPlusResident Code 9 equates to Resident Expulsion with Services (see pg. 119 SIS manual). Expelled students will not take part in the state assessment system. However, expelled students will count (and have always counted) in the 95% participation count. 

Your policy may include other options to expelled students such as:

Arkansas Youth Challenge

Adult Education Programs

Virtual Charter Schools

New Bullying

ACT 1029 


Act 1029 revised current statutes regarding anti-bullying policy and professional development. The legislation requires 2 hours of professional development in bullying prevention and the recognition of the relationship between incidents of bullying and the risk of suicide as part of the professional development rotation. 

In collaboration with AETN ArkansasIDEAS, a new two-hour course on anti-bullying and suicide risk will be released Summer 2020. Moving forward, courses to meet the professional development rotation and requirements, will continue to be released each summer:


2019-20 Suicide Prevention (released June 2019)

2020-21 Anti-Bullying and Arkansas History

2021-22 Child Maltreatment

2022-23 Family and Community Engagement (Parental Involvement)

2023-24 Anti-Bullying and Suicide Prevention

Existing courses on anti-bullying can also be found on ArkansasIDEAS:

Bullying Full Circle - Beyond the Victim

Bullying: Separating Fact from Fiction

Bullying Prevention: Moving from a Culture of Cruelty to a Culture of Caring


Act 1029 also required the Division to develop a guidance document for use by parents and legal guardians, students, and public school districts to assist in resolving complaints concerning student bullying behaviors. This Guidance[link] is available on the Division's website and should be made available to all public school personnel." Link:


New Corporal Punishment

ACT 557 

Corporal punishment may be administered in accordance with the district’s written student discipline policy only. However, Act 557 amended current law to prohibit the use of corporal punishment on a child who is intellectually disabled, non-ambulatory, non-verbal or autistic. 

Any employee who uses corporal punishment on a child who is intellectually disabled, non-ambulatory, non-verbal or autistic is not immune from civil liability. 

District and School Supports


Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) is a framework that helps schools organize evidence-based behavioral strategies into an integrated system. This integrated system enhances academic and social behavior outcomes for ALL students.


PBIS is not a packaged curriculum, scripted intervention, or manualized strategy. PBIS is a multi-tiered framework. That means ALL students receive universal supports. These are commonly referred to as Tier I Supports. Students also have the opportunity to receive additional supports. Tier II Supports refer to supplemental supports that are geared toward smaller groups of students. Tier III Supports refer to intensive supports that are geared toward individual students.


PBIS is a school-wide initiative. Every school should develop 3 to 5 behavioral expectations, and all staff and students should know these expectations well. This means PBIS should be implemented across all settings. Since students spend most of their time receiving classroom instruction, implementation of PBIS in the classroom is especially critical to the success of PBIS at the school-wide level.


The State Personnel Development Grant, in partnership with Arkansas State University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), recently released PBIS training modules which are located on the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Website. The Arkansas PBIS Training Modules were developed to support districts and schools in Arkansas that are interested in PBIS implementation. Although in-person training with CCE PBIS trainers is ideal, it is not always possible.


RTI Behavior Resources


The Modules can serve multiple purposes:

  • Exploration: Find out more about PBIS and how it works
  • Training of Trainers and Coaches: Ensure sustainability by increasing local fluency in PBIS implementation
  • Initial Training: After exploring PBIS and securing a group commitment, begin the implementation process
  • Booster Training: After implementing PBIS, use the modules as go-to resources for strengthening PBIS implementation

PBIS Video modules can also be found on ArkansasIDEAS:

RTI Arkansas: PBIS Overview (IAC17033)

RTI Arkansas: Preparing for PBIS (IAC17034)


G.U.I.D.E. for Life provides students with a strong foundation of essential, fundamental skills by developing their abilities to get along with others, communicate well, make responsible decisions and positive contributions in the classroom, school, workplace, and community. 

These skills include: Growth (manage yourself). Understanding (know yourself). Interaction (build relationships). Decisions (make responsible choices), and Empathy (be aware of others).

The G.U.I.D.E. for Life personal competencies framework can be accessed by utilizing the following link:

G.U.I.D.E. for Life 

Many districts have implemented social and emotional curriculums as well as positive behavioral supports to improve behavior outcomes and support students. 

Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning has resources to support district implementation. 

C.A.S.E.L. District Resource Center


Associated with DESE-Special Education Unit, The BX-3 Project is a multi-year, state-wide, capacity-building initiative focused on training district teams in legally defensible Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIP). Regional training and on-site coaching are provided for each team in order to meet the following project goals:


1. Increase the knowledge base and capacity of educators regarding the development of legally defensible functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans base on evidence-based, high-leverage practices.


2. Empower BX-s teams to develop, train, and sustain behavior-related procedures across the district to improve the outcomes of students with challenging behaviors.


Information about the BX-3 Project can be accessed by utilizing the following link: 


Behavior Essentials Training

Associated with DESE-Special Education Unit, the Behavior Support Specialists (BSS) provide professional development to districts and educational cooperatives in behavior essentials. Essentials Training provides a basic foundation of behavioral knowledge including consistency in the vocabulary and processes used to address challenging behaviors. The Essentials Training Series includes the following:

Essential Training 1 

Investigating Minds Want to Know: Basic Behavior Principles

Essential Training 2  

Mission Possible: Defining the Target Behavior

Essential Training 3  

Break It Down, It’s Data Time: An Introduction to Behavior Data Collection

Essential Training 4 

Catch ‘Em Being Good: Using Reinforcement to Increase Appropriate Behaviors

Information about Behavior Essentials Training can be found here:

Behavior Essentials Trainings

Arkansas Aware

AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) is a federal grant funded initiative to impact the level of mental health awareness within Arkansas schools. Arkansas AWARE offers training to educators and community members on the following topics: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Practices for the classroom/school.

A free training packet to implement the Trauma Sensitive Schools framework can be found at:

AWARE also provides Mental Health First Aid courses at no charge through each Education Service Cooperative in the state. 

In Arkansas AWARE sites (OUR, Marvell, Texarkana), AWARE staff are on site to provide direct support around mental health, training, and behavior.

Mental Health

DESE provides a robust level of support through school health services. School districts have access to professional mental health service programs through local behavioral health agencies and/or school employed staff. DESE offers technical assistance to support school districts in developing, implementing, revamping, and maintaining school-based mental health programs. 

Technical assistance can be requested through the School Health Services page:

Suicide prevention modules can be found at ArkansasIDEAS to support the anti-bullying legislation language on suicide prevention. See Act 1029 above.

Comprehensive School Counseling Plan

School counselors spend 90% of their time during student contact days providing direct and indirect services to students to support skills acquisition and to improve attendance, achievement and/or discipline/behavior.  

Beginning 2020, School districts are required to post the Comprehensive School Counseling Program plan annually on the district website under “State Required Information” by August 1st.  

Guidance documents will be posted soon on the DESE website under Guidance and School Counseling.  

Local support is provided as needed or as requested.


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