Outline of the state of Tennessee

State Models and Supports—Social Emotional Climate

State Models and Supports—Social Emotional Climate

State law requires state agencies to develop models and guidance for districts to promote positive social and emotional climate.

2017 Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-3024. Review of laws and policies related to exclusionary discipline of students in pre-kindergarten through kindergarten.

(a) The department of education, in consultation with juvenile court officials, shall review all current laws and policies related to exclusionary discipline practices in public schools for students in pre-kindergarten through kindergarten (pre-K-K). For purposes of this section, "exclusionary discipline" means any type of school disciplinary action that removes or excludes a student from the student's traditional educational setting.

(b) The review shall:

  • (1) Examine the number of exclusionary discipline actions issued by an LEA and the length of each respective disciplinary action;
  • (2) Detail the type of offenses committed by the students that led to the exclusionary discipline action;
  • (3) Review the impact exclusionary discipline has on students;
  • (4) Examine recommendations from lawmakers, juvenile court officials, judges, district attorneys, the Tennessee commission on children and youth, and representatives from LEAs on alternatives to exclusionary discipline;
  • (5) Identify free resources to support teachers and parents in addressing children's social, emotional, and behavioral health, strengthening family relationships, and increasing developmental and behavioral screening; and
  • (6) Research the possibility of:
  • (A) Eliminating exclusionary discipline for non-violent offenses; and
  • (B) Encouraging schools to adopt restorative justice discipline practices.

(c) The department shall develop guidelines and Standard for alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices based on the findings of the review required under subsection (b).

(d) The department shall present its findings and a written report to the education committees of the senate, the education administration and planning committee of the house of representatives, and the education instruction and programs committee of the house of representatives no later than May 1, 2018.

(e) After submission of the report required in subsection (d), the department shall develop a model policy for alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices that districts may adopt for students in pre-kindergarten through kindergarten (pre-K-K). If a district does not adopt the model policy developed by the department, the district shall develop and implement a policy that meets the guidelines and Standard developed under subsection (c). Each LEA shall adopt the model policy or develop their own policy prior to the 2018-2019 school year.

Policy Type

Tennessee Code Annotated 49-1-214. Safe schools — Advisory guidelines. 

(a) The commissioner of education, in consultation with the commissioner of safety, shall develop advisory guidelines for LEAs to use in developing safe and secure learning environments in schools. Such guidelines shall emphasize consultation at the local level with appropriate law enforcement authorities.

(b) The department of education may prepare and distribute to LEAs guidelines for incorporating into local staff development and in-service training the materials and speakers necessary to help educators reduce gang and individual violence, to assist in drug and alcohol abuse prevention and to provide educators with the tools for nonintrusive identification of potentially violent individuals in and around schools. The department may, upon request, assist LEAs in developing comprehensive violence, drug and alcohol abuse prevention in-service training programs. Department guidelines shall encourage the sharing of resources, the development of joint or collaborative programs and the coordination of efforts with local health departments, county and city law enforcement agencies and other public agencies providing health, drug, alcohol, gang violence prevention and other related services.

(c) The department may assist LEAs in qualifying for the receipt of federal and state funds that may support local efforts to provide the in-service training programs in this section. The department shall encourage LEAs to provide written materials to assist teachers and parents working to develop a safe and secure learning environment in system schools. Within available resources, the department may provide technical assistance directly to LEAs seeking to expand teacher and student safety programs.

Policy Type

Tennessee Code Annotated 49-1-230. Development of training programs for adverse childhood experiences.

(a) As used in this section, “adverse childhood experiences” or “ACEs” mean stressful or traumatic events experienced by a minor child. ACEs include, but are not limited to, a child witnessing, or being the victim of, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, parental separation or divorce, and incarceration.

(b) The department of education shall develop an evidence-based training program on ACEs for school leaders and teachers. The training may be delivered through the trainer of trainers model under § 49-1-213, and shall include:

  • (1) The effects of ACEs on a child's mental, physical, social, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive development;
  • (2) ACEs as a risk factor for the development of substance abuse disorders and other at-risk health behaviors;
  • (3) Trauma-informed principles and practices for classrooms; and
  • (4) How early identification of children exposed to one (1) or more ACEs may improve educational outcomes.

(c) An LEA may develop its own ACEs training program to make available to the LEA's school personnel.

Policy Type

Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-4109. Trauma-informed discipline policy.

(a) As a strategy to address adverse childhood experiences, as defined in § 49-1-230, each LEA and public charter school shall adopt a trauma-informed discipline policy. Each trauma-informed discipline policy must:

  • (1) Balance accountability with an understanding of traumatic behavior;
  • (2) Teach school and classroom rules while reinforcing that violent or abusive behavior is not allowed at school;
  • (3) Minimize disruptions to education with an emphasis on positive behavioral supports and behavioral intervention plans;
  • (4) Create consistent rules and consequences; and
  • (5) Model respectful, nonviolent relationships.

(b) The department of education shall develop guidance on trauma-informed discipline practices that LEAs must use to develop the policy required under subsection (a).

Policy Type