Research by two Fresno State education professors asserting that suspensions as part of school discipline are not effective and “don’t work in changing behaviors” has become in high demand in school districts across the nation.

Don’t Suspend Me!” co-written by Drs. Jessica and John Hannigan and released in August 2016, counters disciplinary practices in the education system, such as suspension, and instead argues that behavior should be treated as an academic issue.

The book has consistently sustained top 100 administration book status since it was released, reaching the Top 10 on several occasions in Amazon’s school safety category.

The Hannigans teach in the Educational Leadership Department of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State. They have worked in education leadership for many years and have contributed to several Fresno County schools being recognized for behavioral improvement. They have named administrator-of-the-year at the districts they served. They also have been recognized at the state level for their accomplishments and contribution to the field of education.

The pair conducts workshops for educators on the book’s topics and have presented for several state-level conferences. The Hannigan have been contacted by schools and districts from throughout the nation regarding equity and school discipline.

Jessica Hannigan trains school administrators in implementing the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Champion Model System that aims to reinforce positive behavior through teaching and by intervening as soon as the need arises.

John Hannigan is the principal of Ronald W. Reagan Elementary in the Sanger Unified School District, which during his tenure has been recognized as a California State Distinguished School and has earned other awards like the Bonner Award for Character Education.

The husband/wife team also parent two school-aged daughters and a one-year old son.

Their new book is a guide for schools looking to adapt alternative methods to discipline and address the importance and challenges that come with it.

They contend that the reason current disciplinary practices don’t work has to do with inequities and disproportionality in school discipline.

“There is disproportionality in discipline for students of color when compared to their white counterparts for similar behavior incidents in schools,” the authors write.

They note that because of the many misconceptions of alternative discipline methods, it is difficult to convince others that their idea is effective.

“Misconceptions arise when the term ‘alternative discipline’ is mentioned,” say the authors. “Some think of alternative discipline as an excuse to dismiss poor behavior.”

They argue that while policies may change behavior, they do not change beliefs about discipline.

“The student has to be able to reflect on what they’ve done so that they can change their behavior and repair that relationship, whether it’s student-to-student or student-to-teacher, and to have it be instructional,” said John Hannigan in a recent interview.

The best way to instill discipline and good behavior into a child, according to the authors, is to treat behavioral issues as if they were an academic issue and something to be taught to students.

The Hannigans have two new books coming out in early spring: “The PBIS Tier Two Handbook” and “The PBIS Tier Three Handbook.”

For more information on “Don’t Suspend Me!” contact them at

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