Responding to Behavioral Crises

De-Escalation and Contacting 911 for Emergency Medical Services

Schools must be prepared to manage student behavior in a behavioral crisis. Chancellor's Regulation A-411 sets the Department of Education’s policy and guidelines for responding to and de-escalating situations when students are experiencing behavioral crises. "De-escalating" means reducing the amount of conflict or tension in order to ensure that there is no threat of injury or harm to the student or others.

The regulation:

  • Gives guidelines for schools to follow when deciding whether to call 911 in response to a behavioral crisis
  • Describes the role of dedicated trained staff who respond when a crisis happens (known as the School Crisis Team). This team assists in de-escalating behavioral crises as well as addressing other types of crisis situations, and
  • Requires that each crisis team develop a de-escalation plan for the school community

Support for Schools

We will help schools manage behavioral crisis situations by providing:

  • Training to staff members at schools on strategies and techniques in de-escalation.
  • Support for implementing other school-wide strategies and interventions to create a supportive school environment. These will include developing strong:
    •  Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports programs
    • peer leadership programs
    • restorative circles and conferencing
    • conflict resolution programs
    • student advisories
    • student leadership programs, and
    • building partnerships with community based organizations and mental health providers.

Policies and Procedures

The following policies and procedures should be followed with respect to crisis intervention and calling 911:

  • When students experience behavioral crises and engage in behavior that poses a substantial risk of serious injury to themselves or others, schools must determine the appropriate way to manage the behavior and whether the behavior can be safely de-escalated by school staff.
  • Every effort must be made by responding school staff to safely de-escalate the behavior where possible using strategies and interventions for addressing behavioral crises and in-school and community resources, including engaging staff trained in crises de-escalation, members of the Building Response Team, Crisis Intervention Team members, guidance staff and staff from School-Based Health and Mental Health Clinics.
  • However, where a student’s behavior poses an imminent and substantial risk of serious injury to himself or others and the situation cannot be safely addressed by school staff or the support services available to the school, 911 must be contacted. 

Key Resources

Challenging Behaviors - Child Mind Institute



Crisis Support Referrals and Resources

For crisis support referrals and resources, see the Crisis or Traumatic Event page.