As part of a strong, collaborative SBHC/school partnership, the SBHC ideally works with school administration to provide alternatives to traditional discipline.

Although disciplinary interventions (i.e. off campus suspension) may be mandated by state law and local regulations, they remove adolescents from a safe environment and consistent adult supervision. These punitive interventions often worsen social isolation, jeopardize academic success, and fail to address root causes of substance use such as social isolation, or trauma associated with violence, physical and sexual abuse, discrimination, and racism.

The SBHC should support the school in reframing its responses to adolescent substance use as restorative, rather than punitive. SBHC staff can work with school staff to implement SBIRT as an option for students who are referred to the school’s discipline office for substance-related offenses.


In the recording below, a provider shares lessons learned from implementing an alternatives-to-suspension program for substance use in a school-based health center.

In the recording below, a provider discusses strategies SBHCs can use to collaborate with schools to develop and implement alternatives-to-discipline programs.