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School Rules and Consequences

Updated on June 28, 2015

School Rules and Consequences

School rules and consequences are a necessity. While classroom behavior plans are common, school behavior and consequence plans are almost impossible to find, anywhere. This behavior intervention plan is intended to be implemented at the school or district level, but it can easily be adapted and made to fit the classroom as a highly effective classroom management system.

School Rules and Inconsistent Consequences

When I was an administrator, I noticed that there wasn’t a consistent method of dealing with behavior. Students, depending on how I happened to feel that day, got fairly random consequences. Sure, I followed district protocol, but ultimately, inconsistency was the word of the day. Because of this inconsistency, I developed a complete program to address misbehavior and consequences. This system, with a little work, could be converted into a very complete classroom behavior and consequence system, more complete than any of your colleagues!

After a few months, I realized that this system is flawed. As administrators, we tell teachers to post a list of rules and consequences in their classes and be consistent. We tell teachers that classroom control and class management are essential. Then, we don’t do it ourselves. Students are generally told about what they shouldn’t do, but they’re never told what the consequence will be. I’ve been through about twenty different schools, and I’ve never seen a school list of misbehaviors and consequences. It seemed wrong to me.

I’m going to include, free of charge, a demerit that I worked on several years back. This demerit, often called an office referral, took me about two hundred hours to complete. I referenced district policy, read articles and books, and reviewed state law. I even received legal guidance. The end result is a school behavior and consequence plan that I am very proud of making. I’m quite sure you won’t find anything like it, anywhere.

Use the behavior and consequence plan in at least three different ways:

First, make a large copy, perhaps a sign, and post it several places in the school. This permanent posting will easily show students that there are expectations and there are consequences for misbehavior. I would certainly put a copy in both the principal’s office and the assistant principal’s office.

Second, make smaller versions, and distribute copies to the teachers, assistants, and any other school personnel responsible for student behavior. These should be in triplicate, utilizing carbon paper. Each of the three copies should be a different color. When somebody writes a referral, they keep the first copy, give one copy to the student for parent signature, and provide the third copy to either the assistant principal or the principal. Establish protocol. Administration should be speaking to students who cause a class-two, three, or four misbehavior. Administration may want to speak with students who continually cause a class-one misbehavior. Obviously, serious consequences, suspensions and expulsions, should be dealt with by administration, the principal or assistant principal.

Third, get ambitious, and try to promote district acceptance of the program. There’s strength in numbers.

I do want to address one last thing, the importance of encouraging positive behavior. Ultimately, this program does lack positive reinforcement. Many reward systems work well, and I would encourage you to utilize both this behavior and consequence system and a reward system. I've seen a lot of schools randomly reward students, with small prizes or calls home, for being caught behaving. I've also seen some schools with more elaborate systems where students are sent to the office at a designated time each week. At that time, students can receive prizes or calls home. There are so many ways to reward positive behavior. Coupled with these rules and consequnces, a positive behavior plan would be very effective.

Good luck!

Category I Infractions

Category I infractions are typically everyday infractions that should be dealt with in the class most of the time. Documentation here is key. Sending home notifications of category I infractions is necessary in order to document ongoing problems with behavior. Once documented at least three times with an incident report, an official demerit can be issued. This results in a trip to see administration.

Category I


Disorderly conduct

  • Disruptive in class
  • Miscellaneous classroom disruptions
  • Note passing
  • Playing in building, including class or cafeteria
  • Rude
  • Running in building or on sidewalk
  • Talking in class

Failure to do work, repeatedly

Failure to return demerit or bus referral within five school days

Failure to serve scheduled detention or study hall

Gum chewing (without permission)


Playground infractions (behavior or improper use of equipment)

Possession of toy or inappropriate item at school

Restroom misbehavior

Rock or other object thrown (no target-no damage or injury)

Spitting on ground or object

Vulgarity or profanity


First Step

  • Incident report

Second Step

  • Incident report

Third Step

  • Demerit

Fourth Step

  • Demerit and detention

Fifth Step

  • Demerit and in-school suspension (1-5 days)

Sixth Step

  • Additional category I infractions are category II for cumulative behavior.

Category II Infractions

Category II infractions are more serious than category I. These infractions, like category I, are typically handled in the class and documented with an incident report for the first violation of school rules. After the first infraction, a demerit is issued and the student is sent to see administration.

Category II


  • Annoying
  • Destroying student property
  • Excluding
  • Grabbing, pushing, or pulling
  • Harassing
  • Irritating
  • Kicking
  • Making fun of
  • Mean teasing or spreading rumor
  • Mocking
  • Name calling
  • Poking
  • Punching
  • Slapping
  • Spitting on studing
  • Tripping

Defiance of authority

Destruction of property (Vandalism for serious infractions)

Encouraging other to break rules or fight


Leaving class without permission

Rock or other object thrown at student


Threats (Bullying or fight threat)


First Step

  • Incident report

Second Step

  • Demerit

Third Step

  • Demerit and detention

Fourth Step

  • Demerit and in-school suspension for 1-5 days

Fifth Step

  • Additional category II infractions are considered category III for cumulative behavior.

Classroom Management Resources:

Category III Infractions

Category III infractions start to get serious. Consequently, there are no incident reports. A demerit is immediately issued, and the student is sent to see administration.

Category III





Sexual Vulgarity




Verbal abuse staff

* Seriouis threats or injuries may be considered category IV.


Step One

  • Demerit and in-school suspension

Step Two

  • Suspension (1-10 days)

Step Three

  • Suspension (10 or more days)

Step Four

  • Additional category III infractions are considered category IV for cumulative behavior.

Category IV Infractions

Category IV infractions are the most serious violation of the school rules. They instantly result in a demerit and serious consequences that must be administered by administration.

Category IV


Drugs or alcohol


Physical abuse of staff

Serious injury to others

Sexual assault



Step One

  • Suspension (1-10 days)

Step Two

  • Suspension (10 or more days)

Step Three

  • Expulsion

Self-Defense and the Law

Students often say, "My parents told me that I should hit somebody if they hit me first!" Because students are often being taught that they can "defend" themselves, I include the following statement :

Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S. 13-404) states that self-defense is only justified when physical force is immediately necessary to protect oneself because of continued unlawful physical force against that person. The threat or use of force is never condoned and will result in disciplinary action.  Any reported behavior that appears to be a violation of either our school rules or the law will be investigated.  Disciplinary action may result.

Comments About School Rules and Consequences

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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      4 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      This is a well written article. I wonder though, what happens if a child is expelled? Expelled to what, a dysfunctional home?

      For a couple of years biofeedback was used in HISD. It is a system of teaching people to control their stress. What do you think of using a biofeedback system?

    • arizonataylor profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Arizona

      My hub is titled “School Rules and Consequences.” The intent of this article is to provide the base you mention in your comment, a base that is largely necessary regardless of philosophical view. Unfortunately, philosophy and reality often collide. When this occurs, philosophy seldom wins. With all due respect, your take on how to manage a school is simplistic and idealistic. In short, it is not realistic.

      This is not a classroom management system, though it could be adapted. It is a set of school rules and consequences. I fully agree that this is not a complete management system, but then, it never was billed as that. You’re right when you say that students must behave because of an intrinsic desire to do so. However, you’re wrong to think that this philosophy or some kind of dialogue is all you need to reach that point. Walking into a school without a plan, rules, and consequences would result in failure, regardless of whether you’re Atticus Finch or not.

      After years of working at a premiere school, I was asked to go to a school that had serious issues. With seventeen new teachers and over 1,200 office referrals, the school was in dire need of consistency. This plan was born out of necessity. Do you think you could have a “conversation” with 1,200 students on a regular basis? Could you really have these “conversations” with kindergarteners who do not understand Kohlberg’s rationalism? At some point, there is room for both reality and philosophy. This article, however, does not intend to go there, nor does it imply that it will. Still, I always enjoy a good philosophical debate. Thank you for that.

      Best wishes.

    • freemarketingnow profile image


      8 years ago from California

      I think behavior modification is a base, and we need to build from that. Lawrence Kohlberg wrote about the 6 levels of moral development. At the bottom is behavior based on consequences and rewards. The crowning achievement of your classroom management system would only get them to level 2. We need to get students to level 6, which is operating on a code of correct conduct regardless of rewards, consequences, and external rules. An example of this is Martin Luther King, Jr. I would like to see more in this system of yours about having conversation with the child and having the child explain the long range consequences of his/her behavior, active character learning that takes place through community service projects, and an incorporation of historical and literary examples (like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird).

    • arizonataylor profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Arizona

      I’m so glad to hear that you like the plan. It works too! I used it, with great results, for a few years.

    • profile image

      Asma Safadi 

      9 years ago

      I have been researching behavior modification and school regulations for a while as we are revising the code of conduct at our school. When I found your site it felt like you had read my mind. Great plan! I will also be suggesting it to my school management. Thank you.

    • arizonataylor profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you. That's why I made this site. I found that nobody had a clear plan that was consistent. This behavior management system works. I've used it, and I can tell you that I had few complaints by parents, teachers, or students. Everybody loved the clear and consistent format. Enjoy!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Where were you when I started as a principal? This is great. I will be using this in my school. This is the best site ever!

    • raisingme profile image


      9 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I think this is great. Sometimes the only structure and predictability children experience is at school so it only makes sense that certain behaviours result in certain outcomes. It works that way in life and as a society we are not raising children so much as we are raising future adults. Great Hub.


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