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Russell Skiba
School of Education

Debbie O'Leary
School of Education

Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2002

IU expert testifies to Congress on successful discipline projects in five schools

Successful projects at five area schools to address problems of discipline and school violence were described recently in Congressional testimony by an Indiana University School of Education expert on school violence.

The five schools, in the Richland-Bean Blossom and Spencer-Owen School Corporations, have just completed a three-year project for reforming their school discipline and violence prevention programs as part of a federally funded program called the Safe and Responsive Schools Project.

The testimony is available at

Russell Skiba, an IU associate professor in educational psychology who is director of the Safe and Responsive Schools Project and director of the IU Institute for Child Study, told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about dramatic decreases in suspensions and expulsions in all five participating schools (Owen Valley High School, Edgewood High School, Owen Valley Middle School, Edgewood Junior High School and McCormick's Creek Elementary School). In particular, Skiba's testimony highlighted an innovative program called Intervention Room at Owen Valley High that resulted in a one-year decline of nearly 60 percent in school suspensions.

Skiba told the committee that a faculty-staffed Intervention Room was created by school officials as an option for teachers with disruptive students before a referral to the school office. "Sometimes a simple problem, such as lack of materials, can be solved simply and the student returned immediately to his or her classroom," Skiba testified. "Where there is a more substantial conflict, the teachers in the Intervention Room talk with the student, attempt to help the student take responsibility for his or her behavior, and hopefully assist the student in returning to the classroom with a plan for avoiding problems in the future."

There was a 56.9 percent decline in the use of suspension at Owen Valley High for the 2000-01 school year, the first year of operation for the Intervention Room. During that year, the number of expulsions also decreased 74 percent, and the average length of expulsion declined nearly 40 percent. Similar decreases in suspensions were seen for students with disabilities.

Skiba told the committee that the data "provide a hopeful sign that it is possible to develop a system of discipline based not on cessation of educational opportunity, but on prevention, early identification, and an appropriate continuum of effective consequences." With sufficient resources for addressing issues of disruptive behavior, "there is no reason why every school in the country" cannot have such results, he said.

For more information, contact Skiba at 812-855-5549 or, or see the Safe and Responsive Schools Project Web site at