An alternative to suspension and expulsion: 'Circle up!'
from the story by Eric Westervelt on NPR:
Oakland Unified, one of California's largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students.
At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead — that so many want to be part of this effort — shows that it's starting to take root.
"Instead of throwing a punch, they're asking for a circle, they're backing off and asking to mediate it peacefully with words," says Ta-Biti Gibson, the school's restorative justice co-director. "And that's a great thing."
Conflicts and in-school suspensions drop sharply at Middle School during second year of “restorative discipline” initiative
Truancy, bullying and other conflicts among students are down, and in-school suspensions have declined 75 percent at a San Antonio middle school two years after University of Texas at Austin researchers helped implement “restorative discipline” as an alternative to “zero tolerance” in dealing with these issues, according to second-year findings involving a three-year initiative.
The marked improvement at Ed White Middle School in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District also was reflected by its being ranked in the top 25 percent statewide for improved progress this year, said Marilyn Armour, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue. She said the middle school made substantial gains in student school performance as measured by the number of students who passed the state exam’s math and reading components....
Laurier students put city focus on restorative justice
The week of Nov. 16 to Nov. 23 has been proclaimed Restorative Justice Week thanks to 152 Laurier Brantford students.
Wilfrid Laurier University lecturer Thomas Rose teaches a class which inspired the students' efforts. Two weeks into the school term, Rose put the idea to the second-year class that they could campaign the City of Brantford to recognize the need for a new approach to the justice system.,,,
Peace room trumps suspensions at Lincoln Park High School
During his seven years as assistant principal at Kenwood Academy, Michael Boraz learned to believe that punitive justice was the way to a disciplined and well-oiled school.
The idea of a "peace circle" to handle problems rather than a five-day suspension or even a transfer was almost laughable to him.
Merced County high schools see the benefits of restorative justice discipline model
High school officials in Merced County are taking a new approach at improving discipline policies on campuses, and that approach is showing a significant improvement in student participation and wellness, according to a new report.
Restorative justice policies, which focus on non-adversarial and dialogue-based decisionmaking, are proving to be more effective than zero-tolerance practices, school officials said during a presentation last week.
Restoring justice: Sonoma County and beyond
Last summer, when the Santa Rosa City Schools District was looking for a way to curb the fourth highest rate of suspensions in the state, it turned to restorative justice as the solution.
“We were almost an outlier,” said Jen Klose, Santa City Schools board member. “We had truly become zero tolerance.”
Searching for a new paradigm for discipline, Santa Rosa City Schools board president Bill Carle said, “We started focusing on how do we do this in a different way, and that’s when we found restorative justice.”
Restorative discipline should be common practice to lower the dropout rate for both students and teachers
from the blog entry by Marilyn Armour in Know:
....Lacking specific training and skills in managing behavior issues, many teachers believe that youths, like themselves, should have the innate skills to manage their own conduct. Unfortunately, frequently used punitive measures send students spiraling toward suspensions, involvement in the juvenile justice system, and diminished motivation to engage in or finish school.
Not surprising, student discipline correlates with dropout rates, and that’s particularly troubling in Texas where 25 percent of students fail to graduate.
For New Orleans, restorative justice means reconciliation
from the article in the Ionia Sentinel Standard:
When Chris Gunther, New Orleans, La.'s coordinator for the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and a Health Department lead, reached out to stakeholders throughout New Orleans, a student advocacy group called Rethinkers made clear to him and his Forum team the need to expand restorative approaches to conflict in schools.
As city prepares to rethink school discipline, a look at restorative justice programs in action
from the article in Chalk Beat:
It’s a clear morning in mid-June, and Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx has that end-of-the-school-year feel. Students bid farewell to teachers, seniors tote freshly printed yearbooks, and most noticeably, students are allowed to disregard the school uniform without a call home or a trip to the principal’s office.
Yet even on a regular day, breaking the dress code would not lead to these consequences. In Validus terms, offenders would be “brought to Fairness” instead.
Close to Home: Success of restorative program shows in numbers
from the article in the Press Democrat:
Last October, after the Santa Rosa City Council approved funding to introduce restorative practices in schools, The Press Democrat ran an editorial that stated, “Spending $125,000 on a one-year pilot program is a lot to ask — especially for the Santa Rosa City Schools District. But in this case, it's money well spent.”