Birney Behavior Handbook

Student behavior is an integral, explicit part of the IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program).

The IB Learner profile traits (thinker, communicator, inquirer, knowledgeable, principled, balanced, caring, reflective, open-minded, courageous) form the backbone of our school culture.

Our vision and rationale for the way we facilitate student behavior at Birney can be found in the Birney Behavior Handbook.  

Birney Handbook can be viewed as a school-specific accompaniment to the district’s Resources for Parents and Students webpage


[Excerpt from Birney Handbook]

In order to enable all our students to leave our school embodying the IB Learner Profile, our staff and students at Birney follow the guidelines of the PBIS program (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support), where desired behaviors are explicitly taught and revisited in order to ensure desired student behaviors and interactions. 

Find out more about School-Wide PBIS at

 We use the IB PYP ‘Action Cycle’ of ‘Choose-Act-Reflect’ to help students learn to mediate their actions and behaviors.

We have also integrated the Committee for Children’s Second Step ‘violence-prevention program’ (pre-school-5th) into our IB curriculum, allowing students to develop empathy towards others as well as learn strategies of problem-solving and anger management through practice and role-play.  Find out more about Second Step at  

We ask our students to model the IB Learner profile by being THINKERS who are:


(principled, caring, balanced)


(reflective, communicative)


(open-minded, knowledgeable, inquiring, risk-taking)

We encourage our students to take responsibility for their actions and choices, while being respectful of all people and property at school.  

Students who show excellent decision-making skills and embody the IB Learner Profile may be given a blue ‘IB Learner’ card by any member of the school staff.  

blue card.JPG

These cards are typically collected in the classroom. One student per class is nominated the IB Learner of the Week and their names are published in the weekly newsletter. Prizes are the coveted gold character pencils given out by the principal or the Student Council.

The Birney staff acknowledges that when there are many little bodies in one place, conflicts do indeed arise, and in these cases, we believe the part of the IBO’s mission statement which says that “Other people, with their differences, may also be right”. In order to resolve the conflict, we encourage students to find a middle ground where they can “make it right”. Students may be required to problem solve a conflict on the spot OR problem-solve in writing at the problem-solving table for a few minutes during recess or after school. In either case, we ask students, ‘What happened?’ and ‘What will you do next time?’ in order to think through and explain the outcome of their choices.  Invariably, students realize that a better choice could easily be made through mutual reflection. This is called ‘restorative justice’ and together we work to make sure the resolution is acceptable to both parties.   


Ideally, mutual problem-solving ends with a sincere handshake. If the problem-solving involved a written explanation of what happened and what the student(s) would do better next time, a reflection slip is sent home to inform the family, and is returned the next day with a parent signature.


Students who struggle with self-regulation may need to enter in to a behavior contract between the student, the teacher and the parent(s). In this case, the student is challenged and motivated to correct behaviors preventing learning for a specific period of time. When a student repeatedly disrupts the learning of others teachers establish a quiet place in the classroom where the student may be required to complete a problem-solving slip while separated from the group. The disruptive student will be expected to try to earn the right to rejoin the group, but if unable to correct behavior, then a reflection slip will be required at the next recess. The disruptive student will bring this paper home for parent's review and signature, and then return it to the teacher.  Reflection slips are part of how we track behaviors and identify patterns of behaviors which might need to be mediated.  Students with multiple reflection slips for the same issue are issued a school referral for further intervention to correct the problem.


Referrals will be used as a means of intervention in the case of serious violations of school behavior rules.Behaviors such as fighting, vandalism, theft, etc.(See California Education Code, Sections 48900, 48900.2, 48900.3, 48900.4, 48900.7, and 48915 for further information) will warrant immediate referrals and suspensions. In addition, behaviors that continually impede learning, including but not limited to serious defiance, also warrant referrals and/or suspensions. In the case of an office referral, one or more of the following consequences will result and will be overseen by the principal:

  • Parent contact/conference

  • Letter of apology or verbal apology; essay (upper grades)

  • Behavior contract

  • Community service

  • Loss of morning or afternoon recess 

  • Parent visit to class

Students who consistently violate school rules will be subject to a discipline step process, as follows:

  • 3 reflection slips for the same issue will result in a teacher-generated referral to the principal, with copies of the reflection slips attached.  

  • 3 formal referrals within the same school year will result in a mandatory meeting between school administration, teacher and parent(s), and may result in a SUSPENSION for one or more days or a Restorative Justice meeting.  

Students who are suspended for any reason may require a behavior support agreement on their return, to be drawn up in the meeting between school administration and the family.  Referrals that may result in immediate suspension:

  • Fight/ Physical Contact; Threat, causation, or attempted causation of physical injury to another

  • Harassment/Bullying

  • Obscene or offensive act or habitual profanity/vulgarity

  • Willful destruction of school property; Theft

  • Repeated disruptive defiance (i.e. refusal to follow directions to the point where it is disrupting learning of other students in classroom)

  • Persistent failure to respond to correction, especially as to respect for staff or others

  • Persistent and repeated failure to follow student rules

Referrals which may result in potential expulsion (4th or 5th grade):

  • Possession of a weapon (e.g. firearm, knife, explosives)

  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, offer, or being under the influence of any controlled substance.

How does the school address bullying?

Bullying is a form of violence. It can be physical, verbal, psychological, or sexual. Here are some examples of bullying:

Physical: hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing 

Verbal: teasing, threatening, name-calling 

Psychological: excluding someone, spreading rumors, intimidating 

Sexual: touching, assault, exhibitionism, and many of the actions listed above 


Bullying may also occur through the Internet or other forms of technology. This is known as cyber-bullying. It is sending or posting hurtful material.  Bullying is common, but it should not be viewed as a normal part of growing up. It is more damaging to children than previously thought. Bullying has a negative effect on a student’s ability to learn.  Schools are responsible for creating safe environments for all students. They must work to prevent bullying, and they must respond to it when it happens.

San Diego Unified has adopted specific measures for addressing bullying proactively. In its commitment to providing all students and staff with a safe learning environment where everyone is treated with respect and no one is physically or emotionally harmed, the Board of Education will not tolerate any student or staff member being bullied (including cyber‐bullying), harassed, or intimidated in any form at school or school‐related events, (including off‐campus events, school‐sponsored activities, school busses, any event related to school business), or outside of school hours with the intention to be carried out during any of the above.


Such acts include those that are reasonably perceived as being motivated either by an actual or perceived attribute that includes but is not limited to race, religion, creed, color, marital status, parental status, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, age, mental or physical disability or any other distinguishing characteristic.  The district further prohibits the inciting, aiding, coercing or directing of others to commit acts of bullying or cyber‐bullying, harassment or intimidation.  


Any staff member that observes, overhears or otherwise witnesses bullying (including cyber‐bullying), harassment, or intimidation, or to whom such actions have been reported must take prompt and appropriate action to stop the behavior and to prevent its reoccurrence as detailed in the applicable Administrative Procedure. Students who observe, overhear, or otherwise witness such actions must, and parents/district visitors are encouraged to report the behaviors to a staff member. At each school, the principal or principal’s designee is responsible for receiving and promptly investigating complaints alleging violations of this policy. Any form of retaliation in response to a report of such acts is prohibited.  More information can be found on the district website


MOST IMPORTANT:  Bullying can be handled best at the school when it is reported immediately.  Contact the school principal if it is reported at home so that the matter can be addressed immediately.  

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.