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  1. Developing a School Mission Statement
  2. Translating Mission Statement into a Code of Conduct
  3. Ways to Disseminate School Policies “Safe and effective learning environments arise out of the vision and efforts of strong leadership” (Larson, 2005, p.25.

As highlighted in Section II on Principal’s Responsibilities, the way that school principals demonstrate
leadership and engender a shared vision sets the tone of the school. One way to provide this leadership
is to establish a school policy that conveys a vision of a violence-free school, values and respects all
students and honors and nurtures diversity. The school policy should be conveyed in terms of:

    • Creating an inviting environment for students, parents and staff;
    • Explicitly honoring and nurturing diversity;
    • Collaboratively generating explicit written documents which need to be widely
      disseminated such as a Mission Statement and Code of Conduct for all members of the school community;
    • Most importantly, ensuring that these laudable objectives are implemented and followed.
For a comprehensive discussion of the nature of various school policy and disciplinary procedures see:



We begin with a consideration of the school’s Mission Statement, which should be aspirational in nature,
inspiring change and conveying a shared vision. What is your school’s Mission Statement?
Compare it to the following illustrative Mission Statement.

Example of a Mission Statement
This school (or School District) (include Name of School or School District) is committed to each student’s success in
learning within a responsive and safe environment. We are committed to providing a learning environment,
which is free from discrimination, threats, bullying and harassment for all students.
We will work to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their
fullest potential and that all students have a personal, meaningful bond with someone in the school community.

Compare your school’s or school district’s Mission Statement to this Mission Statement. Why is it important to have such a public statement?
What does it take to translate such a Mission Statement into a working reality? There is a difference between having a laudatory Mission Statement
and turning it into a working document that actually makes a difference. For example, with regard to this illustrative Mission Statement,
can the school community (principal, teachers, students, parents) enumerate exactly what the school is doing to create and maintain:
  • a responsive and safe environment;
  • an environment, that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment for all students;
  • a school environment that helps to develop all students’ potential;
  • personal and meaningful school bonds for all students?
If the school community cannot specify how each of these four aspirational goals are being worked on and evaluated on a regular basis,
then the Mission Statement is only there for “show.”  A principal should be encouraged to give an annual “State of the School”
presentation with regard to the Mission Statement.

Members of the school community should be invited to be partners in the achievement of each of these goals.
A School Superintendent may similarly be encouraged to give an annual “State of School District” address or report with accompanying data. 
(See V K LINK on how the School District is attempting to achieve each goal.)
“A Code of Conduct is a vital aspect of an overall school’s discipline plan in that it helps to establish a norm of expected behavior and serves to justify actions needed to address problem behaviors among the students.” (Larson, 2005, p.32).

A Code of Conduct is a means to transform abstract concepts into tangible interventions and a means of creating rules with consequences based on the school’s values that have been espoused in the school’s Mission Statement. A living, dynamic Code of Conduct can help put a framework around the discipline structure and help articulate the shared vision of all stakeholders.

Guidelines for Establishing a School’s Code of Conduct
(Adapted from Larson, 2005)
  • Keep in mind that good school rules are not enough. Strong administrative leadership, good teaching and long-term schoolwide
    planning and programs are required to make any Code of Conduct effective.
  • The code should be developed in a collaborative manner involving teachers, students, parents, and supportive services.
  • The code should arise legitimately out of official School Board business, so it is recognized as official policy and can obtain legal status for
    disciplinary due process matters in the school.
  • The Code of Conduct should address the conduct of everyone involved in the school not just the students. 

“Code of Conduct for   ____________________ School”            Mention throughout the document that   
“Students and staff at _____________ school understand that ”
The Code of Conduct should identify, define,
teach and support a small set of expected behaviors, rather than presenting a laundry list of unacceptable behaviors.
These should be stated in positive terms of what individuals will work to accomplish, rather than those behaviors to be curtailed.

For example: Be safe.  Be respectful.  Be responsible.  Be kind.
  • The Code of Conduct should clearly articulate, define and provide examples of desired actions and behaviors,
    noting distinctions between minor and serious violations.
  • The Code of Conduct should be revisited on a yearly basis for updates and refinements.
  • The Code of Conduct may be supplemented by a statement of a Student Bill of Rights.


Each student at  _____________ (Name of school) has the right to:

    • learn in a safe and friendly place;
    • be free of harassment and bullying;
    • receive the help of caring adults if any of the above rights are violated.

The following list of school websites provide examples of exemplary Code of Conducts.

Arlington (Texas) Independent School District
Chicago Public Schools, Illinois
Dear Park Independent School District, Texas
Fairfax County Public Schools
Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, Texas
Leon Country (Florida) School District
Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District
Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools
Pegasus Charter School in Dallas, Texas
Texas Association of School Boards


There is a need to disseminate the school’s Mission Statement and accompanying Code of Conduct, with disciplinary policies and procedures, to all members of the school community. For example, is the school’s Mission Statement

  • Posted prominently at the main entrance of the school and in the Principal’s office?
  • Included on the school’s website, if one exists?
  • Included in the student’s handbook and newsletters?
  • Discussed in student assemblies?
  • Discussed in class meetings and integrated throughout the school curriculum
    (e.g., bullying prevention messages, Character Education lessons)?
  • Discussed at parent meetings?
  • Included in a letter sent home to parents?
  • Distributed to interested community members?

Work with the school’s media specialist to have books available and on display that illustrate
the school’s mission and procedures (e.g., books on bullying prevention, honoring diversity).
See Link to Resources MENU VI). 

Have a supply of videotapes and related biblio materials.

(See Link to Resources MENU VI G).

This web site has been produced by The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment to provide research-based school violence prevention procedures for educators. The web site has been made possible with the generous support of the Robert and Renee Belfer Foundation and other supporters.
The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment to provide research-based school violence prevention procedures for educators
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