Articles, Videos and Publications

The ATS - Alternative to Suspension Model: Discipline in the 'with'

Leadership Magazine
May/June 2017

As a site or district administrator, the way we do discipline sure has changed; even the verbiage is different. We used to talk about “processing referrals,” and often tried to get through as many as possible to keep our discipline secretaries happy (and, of course, to keep the foyer of the assistant principal’s office free of children).

Times have changed, that’s true. The conversation has shifted from one of a zero tolerance, tough-on-violators stance to a conversation espousing Other Means of Correction, and Restorative Practice. Legislation is clear. Assembly Bill 1729, enacted Jan. 1, 2013 to become Education Code 48900.5, dictates that administrators cannot simply suspend students for first-time violations of Ed Codes 48900 (f) through (r), as has been done in the past.

Read the full article here

ATS EdCal Article

March 2017

Since 2011-12, schools have been trying to find different ways to handle disciplining students.  The old way of doing things was detention, suspension and expulsion.  The new way is through approaches like Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports.  These can include methods such as in-school suspension, counseling, restitution, etc.

Paul Meyers, superintendent of Standard SD, said his district uses PBIS, a Circle of Friends program, adding more school psychologists and other efforts in this regard.  They have also implemented ATS - Alternative to Suspension at the middle school level.


Articles on the Alternative Learning Center Model:

Oceanside Unified's Discipline Strategies Featured in ASA Magazine  

Arizona School Administrator's (ASA) Update
March 2016

Scenarios like this play themselves out all over the country every single day. After all, there are rules about right and wrong, and who is in charge. There is an order to the way we "do" discipline in school. And technically, there's nothing really wrong with the way we have always done things, except that our past practices do not necessarily guarantee the results we are really after.

In the traditional discipline model, here's what happens next... Click the images below to read the full article:

Oceanside Unified's Discipline Strategies Featured in Magazine  

USC's Welcoming Practices Newsletter
December 2015 

Restorative Discipline Practice--an approach to teaching students accountability for their actions--is getting attention across the state.

The practice, being used in the Oceanside Unified School District's (OUSD) Alternative Learning Center (ALC), as well as in other schools throughout the district, was featured in the November/December issue of the Association of California School Administrators' (ASCA) Leadership magazine.

The article was written by Barbara Higgins Perez, director of student services for OUSD and Barry Tyler, the coordinator of alternative education for the Fontana Unified School District.

Perez and Tyler have created the Blue Water Educational Consulting Company to help other schools implement these practices. The ASCA article spells out the specific steps in the process, which they write will "facilitate a fundamental shift in how people--kids and adults--can interact with each other with honest, heartfelt accountability."

An article on the ALC also appeared in our May 2015 newsletter.

The Alternative Learning Center Model

ALC Article, page one

ALC Article, page one

Association of California School Administrators
March 2015

Common Core is a welcome instructional shift, but the students who struggle will still be sitting in classrooms with the same difficulties they have always had. The Alternative Learning Center Model offers a variety of educational platforms for these students.

If you Google "I Choose C" there is a cartoon video of a girl applying for a position in a research company. In the opening moments, the employer asks the applicant to describe her most desirable quality. She pauses a moment and asks him what the choices are. He is confused at first, but she quickly clarifies, "You know, A B C or D," referencing multiple-choice options. A little later, in response to another question, she tells the interviewer that she chooses "C." When asked why, she re-marks that her teachers told her that if she didn't know the answer to a question, she should choose "C" because statistically that answer has the highest probability of being correct.


EdCal article on the Alternative Learning Center model

March 2014

Looking for ways to address the needs of struggling students that go beyond academics, the Oceanside Unified School District established an Alternative Learning Center that strives to address the 21st century learner academically, socially and emotionally.

EdCal Article

EdCal Article

Launched in spring 2013, the ALC program, situated on the campus at Ocean Shores High School, provides a pathway for middle and high school students struggling in a traditional or mainstream classroom setting.

"In what we call our 'child find' process, we bring students who might just be sitting at home doing nothing back into the district and into our pro-gram," Principal Barbara Perez said. "It's a conscious effort on our part to find kids who have stopped attending school fbr a variety of reasons?"

ALC Administrator Barry Tyler said only those students granted dis-trict approval are accepted into the program, which has the potential to serve as a life-changing and, possibly life-saving opportunity. Tyler said the ALC is a place where students can focus on education and receive support not just academically, but socially and emotionally. "We recognize each of the students we serve has a story, a history," he said.


Oceanside District's Alternative Learning Center Combines Academic with Social-Emotional Learning     

San Diego Union Tribune
Feb 20, 2013

A three-year-old alternative education program in the Oceanside Unified School District is demonstrating how to meet both the academic and social-emotional needs of students who have struggled in regular high schools and put them back on a successful path.

The Alternative Learning Center (ALC) opened to provide schools a better option than expelling students who had gotten in trouble and needed to be removed from traditional schools. Using APEX Learning, an online program, the school provides rigorous instruction with restorative practices so students can learn from their mistakes and make amends for their behavior.


ALC brochure


Struggling students find help at alternative learning center

By Steve Lombard
For the Seaside Courier, Feb 2014

No one said being a teenager is supposed to be easy. Most teens desire freedom from authority, while at the same time yearn for acceptance and support from family, friends and teachers.

But sometimes a strong desire to be freedom can lead to rebellion, destructive or harmful behaviors, as well as an assortment of mental, physical and emotional health issues. Often, such issues can negatively impact academic success and social development.

In an effort to provide a pathway for struggling students, the Oceanside Unified School District has established an Alternative Learning Center (ALC) on the campus of Ocean Shores High School. Launched last year, the unique program aims to guide middle and high school students struggling in a traditional or mainstream classroom setting.


ALC administrator Barry Tyler said at the Feb. 4 OUSD board meeting that the ALC is saving kids lives by providing an alternative for students who do not do well in mainstream schools. Photo by Rachel Stine

ALC administrator Barry Tyler said at the Feb. 4 OUSD board meeting that the ALC is saving kids lives by providing an alternative for students who do not do well in mainstream schools. Photo by Rachel Stine

Coastal News Group Article

2/7/2014, article by Rachel Stine

OCEANSIDE — Of the more than 60 students in Oceanside Unified School District’s (OUSD) new academic program, many have had discipline issues at their previous school, including some who had been expelled. Several have had attendance problems while others were unable to attend mainstream schools because of health issues. But the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) is helping them to succeed.

The goal of the ALC, according to its administrator Barry Tyler, is to “have a place where (students) could come and focus only on education, and have support not just academically, but socially and emotionally.”


Articles on the ATS - Alternative to Suspension Model:

This article was taken from ACSA's Leadership magazine:

By Barry Tyler and Barbara Higgins Perez
Nov 2015

ACSA article page one

It is a Friday afternoon in September at a typical high school in a suburban town in Southern California. Toward the end of sixth period, a 10th grade student named Josh stands up. Clearly done with Spanish class, he gathers his belongings, flings open the door and storms out. While leaving, he utters something under his breath that is not quite audible but is, most certainly, not nice either.

The teacher, stunned at first, quickly becomes embarrassed — after all, the student just blatantly and defiantly left class without permission. He then becomes angry, an understandable reaction given the circumstances. Faced with 40 pairs of eyes waiting to see what he might do next, the teacher is quick to blurt out, "That will be two days of class suspension!" And, with that, classroom order and hierarchy is reestablished. Case closed. Or is it?


Standard School District Article from EdSource:

Mar 10, 2015 | By Paul Meyers

Meyers-Dr.-Seuss-612x800Superintendent Paul Meyers with Standard School District students on Community Reader Day on March 6, 2015

There are often expectations for a new superintendent to make an immediate impact in his or her district. That was the case when I became superintendent at Standard School District in Bakersfield in November 2013, just as the new Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) was unfolding.

Being new to the district and the area, the needs assessment required by the LCAP served me well as an educational leader. It didn’t take long to identify the areas of need or to come to agreement on how to address them.



Students may attend full day at learning center rather than miss out on schoolwork

SD Union Tribune
By Gary Warth
12:01 A.M.OCT. 5, 2014

Most students facing suspension in the Oceanside Unified School District aren’t being sent home, but instead are continuing their schoolwork in a separate classroom and doing some self-reflection about why they’re in trouble.

That option is possible through the district’s ATS - Alternative to Suspension program, which started as a pilot program in February at three campuses and has since been expanded to all district middle and high schools.


Unconventional school program helps teens thrive at school and learn at their own pace

San Diego Union Tribune
by Gary Warth
12:01 a.m. Feb. 20, 2013

Students who prefer to do their lessons online, have been expelled from traditional school or are home recovering from an illness or injury now have an alternative in the Oceanside Unified School District.

The appropriately named Alternative Learning Center opened Jan. 28 in two classrooms at Ocean Shores High School to serve students who for various reasons do not fit in with a conventional program.



ABC News Article

Mark Christian
4:00 PM, May 7, 2015


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Standard School District is the first in the county that has implemented a program that focuses on restorative justice for students.

The repetitive cycle of discipline has been met head-on giving students tools for anger management and communication during a conflict.

In response to rising suspensions, expulsions and out of district educational placements, the Standard School District now utilizes the restorative discipline practices, which is referred as the ATS - Alternative to Suspension.


Comments are closed.