The School of Education at Loyola University offer an online certificate in School Discipline Reform for professionals committed to serving their students and their communities by understanding, shaping, and implementing prevention-oriented approaches to school discipline. This part-time program is designed to equip education professionals-superintendents, principals, other school and district-level administrators, school attorneys, discipline deans, school psychologists, school social workers, counselors, and other educators - with the tools and skills to needed to lead comprehensive initiatives to reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions and their adverse impacts on vulnerable students.

Program Benefits


This certificate program equips participants to:

  1. Understand fundamental legal principles and law that guide school discipline practices;
  2. Review and analyze school and district-level discipline data and conduct a root cause analysis;
  3. Develop and conduct a needs assessment related to school discipline in their respective settings;
  4. Plan, facilitate, and reflect on the effective restorative dialogue and a variety of proactive and responsive circles;
  5. Apply the principles of restorative and anti-racist practices to address a challenge that their schools or districts are facing;
  6. Demonstrate knowledge regarding a variety of research-based practices that can be implemented to prevent and respond to behavior within a framework of multi-tiered systems of support (e.g., universal/tier 1; secondary/tier 2 and tertiary/tier 3); and
  7. Develop an action plan to implement prevention-oriented alternatives to exclusionary school discipline practices in their respective settings.



Students may obtain the online certificate by successfully completing the four (4) two-credit hour courses in one to two years. 

Required Anti-Racism Workshop

All students will begin the program with a required workshop in anti-racism (CIEP 571).


The specific course sequencing will be tailored to each student in consulation with their academic advisor.

  • CIEP 535: System Consultation in School Discipline Reform
  • CIEP 625: Restorative Justice in Schools
  • CIEP 620: Legal Issues in School Discipline
  • CIEP 537: School Discipline Reform: Linking Law, Policy and Practice

Required Immersion Seminar: Restorative Justice in Schools

Students are required to attend an intensive seminar on Restorative Justice. The retreat offers students the opportunity to network with other professionals and engage in lively discussions and exercises related to the core principles and practices of restorative justice.

Admission Requirements

Interested in applying? Check out the School Discipline Reform Certificate application requirements.


Program Faculty


The faculty in this program bring interdisciplinary expertise in evidence-supported approaches to school discipline at the School of Education. Students benefit from a faculty whose experience spans research, policy and practice related to school discipline in various settings.  They are committed to helping students attain a deeper understanding of the complex issues involved in school discipline reform and to develop sound strategies to address them.

Faculty members in this program include:

Dr. Pamela Fenning

Dr. Pamela Fenning is a Professor of School Psychology at Loyola University Chicago School of Education and served as the director of the Doctoral School Psychology Program from 2001-2015. She was a principal investigator on an evaluation study of multi-tiered behavior support in six large high schools. Her research and clinical interests focus on multi-tiered academic and behavioral interventions at the high school level, equity in school discipline policy and competency training in school psychology professional preparation programs. She has published widely in the area of school discipline and equity in behavioral approaches in educational settings. She is currently the chair of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Child and Professions Committee and on the NASP Graduate Program Approval Board. She is a licensed clinical and school psychologist in Illinois. Dr. Fenning holds a PhD in School Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Miranda Johnson

Miranda Johnson is a Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the director of Loyola’s Education Law and Policy Institute.  She teaches experiential learning classes in education law and supervises law students in the representation of parents and students in school discipline and special education cases.  She has presented in various settings on prevention-oriented approaches to school discipline and organized training programs for school administrators on school discipline issues.  Prior to working at Loyola, she was a staff attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, an organization promoting access to better educational services for New York City school children.  She holds a JD from New York University School of Law and a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  Before law school, she taught social studies at a residential high school in Colorado and conducted research in Tanzania on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Sarah-Bess Dworin

Sarah-Bess Dworin is Director of Restoring Community, a holistic culture and climate partner for schools and community-based organizations. Through this work, Dworin supports partners to implement interventions that decrease suspension, increase student engagement, and strengthen relationships throughout the community. As Steering Committee Member of the Transforming School Discipline Collaborative, Sarah-Bess partners with an interdisciplinary team supporting districts throughout Illinois to implement equitable and non-exclusionary discipline practices. She is an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago Law School and teaches a course in Restorative Justice for the Certificate in School Discipline Reform.

The former Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Umoja Student Development Corporation, Dworin founded the professional development team and managed the design and production of multiple curricula, including a text supporting In School Disciplinary Interventions and "Umoja Seminar, a 4-year long daily social and emotional learning course for high schools. A former youth outreach worker in Chicago, Ms. Dworin received her MAT from the Teacher's College at Columbia University and taught at Bronx Lab High School in Bronx, NY for 5 years. Other curriculum and youth development publications include "Adolescent War Trauma and the Path Toward Healing in Northern Ireland," 2001, and "Khmer Youth Association Women’s Empowerment Experiential Curriculum," 2011.

Anna Hamilton

Anna Hamilton is a special education administrator in Maine Township District 207. Dr. Hamilton is a dually licensed school and clinical psychologist in Illinois and currently oversees the public day school in the District 207, Frost Academy. Frost Academy serves students with significant emotional and behavioral challenges. The program is centered around cultivating a positive school community and strong relationships with the students and families they have the privilege of serving. Dr. Hamilton has engaged in a range of systems change initiatives to promote equitable practices for the students she serves. She values a strength-based and relational approach in supporting students and is committed to the reflective work necessary to be a racially conscious educator. Prior to serving in an administrative role, Dr. Hamilton was a school psychologist in a high school setting. She has been in the field for over 11 years and received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Loyola University Chicago.

Kathleen Hirsman

Kathleen Hirsman is faculty at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and teaches courses on education law. She has 25 years’ experience in school law practice, representing and counseling school districts in board governance issues, student issues, special education, labor and personnel matters, collective bargaining, general litigation, and in general corporate advisory capacity. She is currently serving on the school board of Hinsdale Township High District 86. She received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Prior to law school, she taught English-as-a-second-language in public schools and at the university level. 

Jennifer J. Rose

Jennifer J. Rose is a nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP). Dr. Rose has provided psychological services for students in diverse settings including traditional k-12 buildings, juvenile corrections, alternative schools, and psychiatric facilities. Dr. Rose completed her internship in New Orleans within the Louisiana School Psychology Internship Consortium (LASPIC). Prior to becoming a school psychologist, Dr. Rose was a classroom teacher in Chicago Public Schools for nine years. As the former Tertiary Research and Evaluation Coordinator for the Illinois Positive Behavior Supports Network (IL-PBIS Network), Dr. Rose consulted with schools to address issues related to school climate and student social-emotional needs, and behavior. During her tenure with IL-PBIS Network, she assisted schools in implementation of universal screening using standardized instruments (e.g., Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ; and the Systematic Screener for Behavior Disorders, SSBD). Universal screening is an efficient process to help identify students with social-emotional, or behavioral concerns that may benefit from early intervention.

Dr. Rose believes that the provision of academic equity for minority and low-income student is a powerful demonstration of social justice. Her efforts in this area are focused on consulting with public schools to assist in the engagement and empowerment of families of color; the implementation of interventions to help reduce the disproportionate application of exclusionary discipline for students of color and students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Dr. Rose’s has also co-authored several articles on educational equity including, The Overrepresentation of African American Students in Exclusionary Discipline: The Role of School Policy. She has also delivered numerous presentations on the topics of equity and disproportionality.

Dr. Rose earned her PhD in School Psychology and her MEd in Educational Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. She received a MEd in Teaching and Learning from DePaul University and a BS in Communication Studies from Northwestern University.

Robert Spicer

Robert Spicer is the CEO of Restorative Strategies, LLC based in Chicago, IL. Restorative Strategies, LLC provides training and technical support to a variety of stakeholders throughout the country with a focus on eradicating the school to prison pipeline. Through the practices of Restorative Justice with an emphasis on teaching Social/Emotional Learning, Restorative Strategies, LLC focus is to build capacity around these practices and move away from criminalizing our most precious resource—our youth.

Robert Spicer started his career in education as an elementary school teacher at Sojourner Truth Elementary in Chicago, IL from August 1995 to August 2003. From 2003-2009, Robert joined the team of the Community Justice for Youth Institute where he managed a collaboration between the community and the Cook County States’ Attorney’s office to divert non-violent offenses to ‘Community Panel’. These panels used Restorative Justice to re-enter youth back into the community with the support of trained community members. Robert was the managing director of this citywide project in Chicago, IL.

Robert Spicer later took the position as the Chief Dean of Discipline, Restorative Justice and Code Switching at the recently turned around Christian Fenger High School in Chicago, IL in 2009. After a traumatic school year, Robert‘s role shifted to the Culture and Climate Coordinator in 2010 to meet the needs of this high school. In this new role and the first of its kind in a U.S. Public School, Robert supported the staff in sustaining a safe and stable school culture and climate through the effective implementation of Restorative Justice Practices and Social Emotional Learning. These programs, coupled with the utilization of Restorative Practice, reduced the school’s reliance on zero-tolerance policies and created a model for schools both nationally and internationally. His work was featured in the CNN docudrama ‘Chicago Land’ in 2013.

Robert Spicer has received numerous awards and honors for his work of bringing Restorative Practices to schools and creating an “ecosystems of care”. Robert has spoken widely about the power of Restorative Justice on major news networks like CNN, National Public Radio, WTTW, Chicago Sun-Times and the Associated Press. Robert has received recognition for his work from numerous organizations and was recognized by the White House and received the President Obama’s National Volunteer Service Award in 2013.

Robert is a sought after national conference speaker and motivational speaker on Restorative Practices and has been a featured speaker and workshop facilitator at numerous Colleges and Universities. They include John Jay College, NYU, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago Law School, University of Chicago School of Social Work, Loyola University and Northwestern Law School. Robert was invited by the Obama administration to the White House to be apart of a Department of Education and Department of Justice initiative called Rethink Discipline and was a featured speaker on a Webinar hosted by the Department of Education on this initiative. He is a national trainer in Restorative Practices and trains school districts and Community based organization in Peace Building and Conflict resolution. He has trained over 100 Peace Circle Keepers in the Syracuse City School district where he continues to offer technical support and training for the teachers, youth support staff, and community members. He has also worked in the Peoria School District, Miami-Dade School district, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Prince George’s County Maryland School District, Oak Park/River Forest District, Roselle School District and the NYC school district. Robert's work has now been focused on Diversity and Inclusion and is a sought after workshop presenter on the topic using restorative justice practices. He has worked with Snap, Inc. and other organization to create safe spaces in the workspaces. Robertearned his undergraduate degree with honors from Morehouse College in 1995 and his Master’s degree in Early Child Education with honors from Dominican University in 1997. He received a honoray Ph.D from Global Ovei Dei Seminary and University for being a subject matter expert in Restorative Justice. Robert was the Senior Pastor at the Englewood Mennonite Church in Chicago from 2007-2013 where he served the faith community and supported their spiritual health. Robert is married to Chandra Spicer and they are the parents of four lovely children-BreAnna, Robert Jr., Bethaney and Brea. Robert is the author of Aspirational Justice A Pathway toward Healing and Reconciliation.

Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarships



The School of Education and Loyola's Financial Aid Office are committed to helping students secure the necessary financial resources to make their education at Loyola affordable. You can learn more on the Financial Assistance page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Here are some answers to the common questions that we receive.

How flexible is the program structure?

The certificate program is flexibly structured to accommodate the busy lives of working professionals.

The specific sequence of courses and overall program of study will be individually tailored in consultation with each students' academic advisor.

Does Loyola provide financial assistance?

Yes. Students enrolled in the certificate for a minimum of four credits per semester are eligible for federal loan programs.

I would like to seek funding from my school or district for this program. What are the ways in which this program would benefit my school or district?

Because this program is designed to be applied in nature, schools and districts would benefit from the participation of administrators, teachers, discipline deans, school-based mental health professionals and staff in this program in the following ways:

  • Participants will learn about relevant laws, policies and procedures that govern school discipline in their buildings and complete an applied project to analyze and review relevant policies, such as school board disciplinary policies, Codes of Conduct/student handbooks, and memoranda of understanding between schools and law enforcement agencies.
  • Program participants will receive support to gather, analyze and summarize school and district disciplinary data in the aggregate and disaggregated by relevant categories.
  • Participants will receiving training and guidance to develop and implement a needs assessment on school discipline in the fall semester.
  • Based on the findings of the needs assessment, participants will develop a 3-5 year action plan for reforming school discipline practices in their schools and buildings and will lay the framework for implementation of this plan as part of their certificate coursework.
  • Participants will receive training on restorative practices and will then be supported to apply restorative principles and practices in their own school or district setting.
  • Participants will learn about research-supported practices in school discipline that they can bring back to their schools or districts.
  • Participants will interact with colleagues from around the country and learn more about tools, practices and structures to reform school discipline that are being used in other schools and districts from professionals who have leadership roles related to school discipline.

Additional benefits for participants from Illinois:

  • The certificate curriculum will align with state laws on discipline, including:
    • The school discipline reform legislation referred to as SB 100 (Public Act 99-0456) and
    • the school discipline data reporting requirements and the potential need for schools and districts with high rates of out-of-school suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary transfers to alternative school placements to develop a corrective action plan as set forth in  105 ILCS 5/2-3.162. 

Is the program accredited?

Loyola University Chicago is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools while Loyola University Chicago School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.  The School of Education is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the School Psychology PhD program and Ed.S. program is accredited/approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), respectively.

What can I expect from the online course experience?

Courses are taught by full-time faculty members at Loyola as well as leading practitioners, each experts in their fields.  Each course is organized to teach key substantive areas and practical skills. All courses are offered online through Loyola’s learning management system and consist of reading assignments, recorded lectures, quizzes or exams, discussion board assignments, writing assignments, and live classes. Course materials are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Online learning is flexible, convenient, and geared toward each student's own schedule and needs. And distance learning is student-centered. Students have regular contact with faculty and other students through e-mails, chat rooms, discussion forums, and instant messaging. Assignments are turned in and returned with in-depth feedback to the student's home page within days. Finally, online education is grounded in adult learning theory, making it an excellent learning medium for busy professionals.

Can I transfer credits from other schools?

Due to the unique nature of the certificate program, transfer credits will not be accepted.