Committee for Children Blog

Funding Passed in Ohio to Support SEL in Place of Exclusionary Discipline

HB 318

Since 2012, Ohio has developed social-emotional learning (SEL) largely in conjunction with its work concerning Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The state is making great strides in building out its SEL policy landscape and integrating SEL into its vision for education. What does this mean for you in your schools and systems in terms of SEL implementation? We’ll break it down for you.

New School Safety Law Informs Ohio’s PBIS and SEL Policy Landscape

On August 3, 2018, then-Governor Kasich signed HB 318, the “SAFE Act,” which went into effect November 2, 2018 to:

  • Provide $14 million in grants: $12 million for school safety and $2 million to support alternatives to suspensions and expulsions
  • Create standards for Ohio school resource officers (SROs)
  • Phase out suspensions and expulsions for preK through Grade 3 students

Committee for Children helped with the passage of this bill and holds up its policy pathways as a national exemplar in evidence-based, supportive discipline policy. As part of our 40th anniversary, we invite you to join us in efforts like these to help lift your voice to continue improving SEL policy on the state and federal levels.

Under HB 318, students in PreK through Grade 3 can be suspended only for up to 10 days or expelled for:

  • Bringing a firearm or knife capable of causing serious bodily harm
  • Making a bomb threat
  • Committing a delinquency offense that causes serious physical harm to another person or property

Suspensions will be allowed only as necessary to protect immediate health and safety concerns of the child or others and, whenever possible, after consulting with a mental health professional. If mental health challenges seem to be the underlying reason for the student’s behavior, the school must assist the parent or guardian in locating a provider and accessing these services, including a referral, with no financial obligation for the school.

How to Fund Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline

The SAFE Act provides $2 million in grants for schools to improve school climate via PBIS, evidence- or research-based SEL, or both. Additionally, we track funding sources that are conducive to funding SEL.

Training and Monitoring Alternative Discipline

The act improves teacher preparation standards in classroom management techniques, so people enrolled in teacher prep programs will receive instruction on:

  • PBIS and social-emotional development
  • Classroom strategies to build positive behaviors and reduce
    unwanted behaviors
  • Data collection systems
  • Effective instructional strategies
  • Matching their curriculum with data-identified student needs

For monitoring purposes, the act also requires that school report cards include acknowledgment as to whether schools have implemented a PBIS framework, which may include data systems, an evidence-based curriculum and effective instructional strategies, evidence-based and data-driven classroom practices, and improving staff climate and culture concerning discipline.

Reaching the Vision Ohio Has for Its Students

Ohio’s Department of Education believes each child should be “challenged to discover and learn, prepared to pursue a fulfilling post-high school path and empowered to become a resilient, lifelong learner who contributes to society.” This vision points to the goal of an annual increase in the percentage of high school students who, one year after graduation, have accomplished one of the following:

  • Enrolled in a 2- to 4-year degree or work training program
  • Enrolled in the military
  • Earning a livable wage
  • Engaging in meaningful, self-sustaining vocation

The Ohio Department of Education provides useful guidance for achieving this vision as it relates to SEL:

Prior Ohio work on SEL

  • In 2012: Ohio Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Network was launched. The state also created SEL standards for Early Learning (EL).
  • Early 2013: The state developed rules and policies regarding PBIS and the restraint and seclusion of students, which sparked deeper discussion about PBIS and discipline.
  • Late 2013: Ohio PBIS Network developed a basic working structure with quarterly network meetings and established workgroups.
  • 2015: The state expanded SEL standards from PreK through Grade 3.
  • 2017–2018: The PBIS Network was providing PBIS awareness, training, and resources statewide.
  • 2018: Ohio began working on SEL standards for Grades 4 through 12, “working with experts from around the state to begin this work. Ohio experts are participating on an advisory council to provide guidance to the process . . . and are also updating the K–3 SEL standards.”

With the SAFE Act and prior measures, Ohio is ensuring that each child across the state “is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.” Learn more about the state’s Strategic Plan for Education for 2019-2024.

Policy and Advocacy

Learn more about our policy and advocacy team’s efforts to support SEL, bullying prevention, and child protection, and follow our Advocacy in Action page, which highlights the work we do on the ground at state and federal levels.