Practices that allow educators to address disciplinary matters as opportunities for learning instead of punishment are far more successful in changing a student's behavior than a reliance on increasing punitive measures.  The diversion process is an alternative pathway that a student and parent can choose when a student has been referred to a superintendent's hearing. 

If a parent opts for diversion, they plea "no contest" to the discipline charges and provide written consent for their child to be assessed using the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI) and/or the Youth Adolescent Screening Instrument (YASI).

Students who have, or are suspected of having, a disability must have a manifestation determination meeting held prior to the start of the diversion process.  If manifestation is determined, the student is referred back tot he committee on special education (CSE) but can still access diversion services.

Once a student has been tested on the MAYSI and/or YASI by.a school clinician (social worker or mental health counselor), the parent and student participate in an emergency response team meeting (ERT) along with the school administrator, school counselor and a parent liaison.  The director of pupil personnel services (or designee) charts the evidence-based interventions.  A case plan is developed along with decisions made regarding whether further suspension is warranted and the abeyance (early return to school) conditions.

Diversion is a diagnostic and prescriptive process, using evidence-based treatments designed to identify and address. underlying causes for behavior and to reduce recidivism.  Evidence-based interventions include:

  • Strengthening Families
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Trauma Focused Cognitive Therapy
  • Anger Replacement Training (ART)
  • Family Functional Therapy (FFT)
  • Restorative Practices/Circles
  • T4C Thinking for Chang
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation & Treatment


Abeyance conditions are sometimes assigned to students who receive a long-term suspension but do not opt for the diversion pathway.  Completion of abeyance conditions potentially allow for a student to return to school from suspension sooner, however, the conditions assigned are not evidence- based.  They are the administrator and PPS team's best guess at what might help the student so that they don't have another incident.  These include:

  • Peer Mediation
  • Fire Prevention
  • Mentoring
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan
  • Check and Connect System with Trusted Adult
  • Teen Intervene
  • Interactive Journaling

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