The Waterloo Region District School Board is committed to encouraging positive school climates for staff and students.  Students cannot reach their full potential if they do not feel safe, respected and cared for in the classroom, in the school and on the playground. The Education Act requires school boards to ensure appropriate consequences are applied to inappropriate behaviour and that supports are in place to assist students in changing those behaviours.

Progressive Discipline can range from a loss of verbal reminders to full expulsion depending on the seriousness of the incident. The goal of all interventions should provide students with appropriate supports that address inappropriate behaviour.

Research tells us that suspensions and expulsions on their own, further alienate and isolate youth who are most in need of developing strong relationships with adults and peers.


The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) has implemented a number of different strategies and programs to over the years to improve school cultures, promote positive student behaviour and to move from a punitive to a more restorative approach to deal with challenging behaviour.  The results of the efforts can be seen in the suspension rates, which were calculated by the Ministry of Education at Number of Students Suspended, Enrollment and Rate of suspension by School Board 2000 –  2003 and Number of Students Suspended, Enrollment and Rate of Suspension by School Board 2003-2004 to 2010-2011.

Early and Ongoing Interventions

Early interventions may include, but are not limited to:

  • verbal reminders;
  • visual cues to the desired behaviour;
  • review of expectations set out in the school’s Code of Conduct;
  • clear examples of appropriate behaviour and opportunities to practice;
  • removal of distractions or targets;
  • a written work assignment with a learning component related to the incident; and
  • detentions/learning sessions.

Ongoing interventions may be necessary to sustain and promote positive student behaviour or address underlying causes of inappropriate behaviour.

  • meet with parents;
  • volunteer service to school community;
  • conflict mediation;
  • restorative practices;
  • behaviour contract;
  • peer mentoring;
  • consultation with school and/or board support staff;
  • referral to counselling; and
  • review of program needs.

Strategies for Addressing Inappropriate Behaviour

Administrators should utilize a range of developmentally appropriate  interventions, consequences and supports that provide opportunities for students to improve behaviour.  Any consequence or range of consequences will be considered after the administrator has had an opportunity to determine if mitigating factors are a factor in the event.

  • Meeting with parent(s), student and administrator;
  • referral to the CYW;
  • referral to community agency for anger managementn or substance abuse ;
  • withdrawal of privileges;
  • withdrawal from class with planned learning activities;
  • suspension (with the option of attendance in the  Alternative to  Suspension Program); and
  • expulsion.

Mitigating Factors

Schools and school boards are required to consider any and all mitigating factors before considering a suspension or expulsion, since the mitigating factor may determine a different outcome.   Under the Education Act, Ontario Regulation 472/07, Subsection 306 (2), 310 (3), 311.1 (4) and clauses 311.3 (7) (b) and 311.4 (2) (b), the following mitigating factors will be considered:

  1. The student does not have the ability to control his or her behaviour;
  2. The student does not have the ability to understand the foreseeable consequences of his or her behaviour; and
  3. The student’s continuing presence in the school does not create an unacceptable risk to safety of any person.

Also, under subsection 306 (2), 306 (4), 310 (3), 311.1 (4) and clauses 311.3 (7) (b) and 311.4 (2)(b) if they mitigate the serviousness of the activity for which the student may be or is being suspended or expelled:

  1. The student’s history.
  2. Whether a progressive discipline approach has been used.
  3. Whether the activity was related to any harassment of the student because of his or her race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation, or to any other harassment.
  4. How the suspension or expulsion would affect the student’s on-going education.
  5. The age of the student.
  6. If the student has an individual education plan (IEP).
  7. Whether the behaviour is a manifestation of a disability identified in the IEP.
  8. Whether the suspension or expulsion is likely to result in an aggravation or worsening of the student’s behaviour or conduct.

Ministry Resources