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J Drug Educ. 2002;32(2):149-65.

Attendance problems and disciplinary procedures in Nebraska schools.

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College of Pharmacy, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha., 68198-6045, NE, USA.



School principals were surveyed in rural and urban Nebraska schools to compare policies and procedures on school attendance, and to contrast the use of disciplinary procedures for attendance, violence and substance abuse.


A survey was sent to a 50 percent random sample of Nebraska schools. Respondent school addresses in metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) areas were categorized as urban, and non-MSA respondents were classified as rural area schools.


Of the 680 surveys mailed, 464 (68.2 percent) completed surveys were returned. Overall, 86.2 percent of respondents were from rural schools and 13.8 percent from urban schools. A list of disciplinary problems and procedures was reported for a first-time offense by rural and urban schools. Both an "occasional attendance problem" and a "chronic attendance problem" were most frequently addressed through parent contact in both urban and rural areas. For "fighting with another student," rural schools most commonly reported discipline by teacher, followed by discipline by principal and parent contact. In urban schools, discipline by principal was most common. For "using drugs other than alcohol or tobacco at school" in both areas, disciplinary procedures included parent contact and short-term suspension. A list of disciplinary problems and procedures was also reported for a second-time offense and third-time offense. For "fighting with another student," the most commonly reported procedure was discipline by principal and parent contact for a second-time offense, followed by short-term suspension and long-term suspension for a third-time offense. For "using drugs other than alcohol or tobacco at school," for a second time offense was long-term suspension and semester expulsion for a third-time offense. Principals were also asked in an open-response format, what program or procedures were currently in place to prevent violence in their school. Common responses were "conflict resolution training," followed by "the Boys Town social skills and behaviors model" and "a zero tolerance policy."


School principals generally reported similar disciplinary actions for most disciplinary problems. For recurrent offenses and for serious problems, principals generally used tougher disciplinary procedures. Some of the discrepancies in disciplinary actions, however, suggest the need for consistent enforcement and communication of policies for both urban and rural schools.

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