School discipline has two main goals: (1) ensure the safety of staff and students, and (2) create an environment conducive to learning. Serious student misconduct involving violent or criminal behavior defeats these goals and often makes headlines. However, the most common discipline problems involve noncriminal student behavior. Noncriminal student behavior is subject to the disciplinary and enforcement policies of each school.
A school discipline plan must conform to state and federal statutes and to district policy. State education boards are responsible for detailing school discipline rules and the consequences of breaking them are usually specified and communicated to staff, students, and parents by such means as newsletters, student assemblies, and handbooks. Schools have moved away from corporeal punishment and many now enforce a zero tolerance policy through counseling, detention, suspension, or expulsion.