A Tale of Two Policies: The Case of School Discipline in an Ontario School Board


  • Emily Milne MacEwan University
  • Janice Aurini University of Waterloo


School Discipline, Safe Schools Act, Progressive Discipline, Tight Coupling, Loose Coupling, Education Policy


This study examines how staff working for one Ontario school board perceive two distinct approaches to school discipline policy: the Safe Schools Act (Bill 81) and Progressive Discipline and School Safety (Bill 212). The more centrally controlled and rigid Safe Schools Act was criticized by interviewees and cited for human rights violations. However, the inherent flexibility and vagueness of the Progressive Discipline policy that replaced it was seen to lead to inconsistent policy implementation and unequal outcomes for students. This paper considers the broader implications of policies that are “tightly coupled” or “loosely coupled” in terms of teachers’ professional discretion, accountability, and student outcomes.


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