Mental Health Assessment in Zero Tolerance School Policies
Attention to mental health of school age children is key to a safe learning environment provided by public education policy subsystems. One method K-12 schools use to ensure a safe learning environment is through zero tolerance discipline policies. What (if any) consideration of mental health diagnosis is written into zero tolerance policies articulated at the local level? This study focuses on an analysis of zero tolerance, and mental health assessment policies based on stratified random sampling of 200 school districts in the United States. The findings of this study revealed that a majority of districts sampled had publicly available mental health policy. While 70 of those districts with mental health policy had referenced mental health assessment, only 24 of those districts referenced assessment during the suspension expulsion discipline process. Of those that referenced the mental health assessment during the discipline process, 1 district included this process in their zero tolerance policy.