Every day, students from marginalized communities disproportionately face adversity and trauma. It is well documented that exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can impact children's ability to focus, learn, and even regulate their emotions. Many schools, rather than providing multi-tiered systems of support to address the root causes of behavior, place these students at greater risk of experiencing health disparities through the use of exclusionary school discipline (ESD) practices. ESDs not only deny students important educational opportunities, but also can compound existing social, economic, and health inequities. Thus, ESD practices must be understood as more than simply impacting what happens in the classroom. Instead, they should be conceptualized as public health policies with far-reaching impacts on a child's lifelong health and well-being. Even though school discipline has largely been overlooked by the public health community, current reform efforts are one aspect of a holistic health justice framework.
This article seeks to begin to bridge current gaps in the literature and public discourse by identifying key linkages between ESD practices and health. It then presents evidence-based design principles to ensure education policy is aligned with a health justice framework. And finally, it explores a specific school-based intervention, restorative justice.