Fix School Discipline Toolkit for Educators - Page 32

What does Restorative Justice look like in a school? The Restorative Justice “circle” is used as a critical way to emphasize community, relationship building, and build trust. In classrooms, chairs are placed in a physical circle with no additional furniture blocking any participants. A facilitator, the “circle keeper,” can be a student or a teacher who makes introductory comments, including a discussion about the values and positive agreements that will govern that circle. A talking piece, that has some significance to member s of the circle, allows only the person holding it the right to speak. Participants “check-in” to talk about how they are feeling physically, mentally or emotionally and “check-out” to discuss how they are feeling as the circle ends. Teachers regularly use circles to work together with students to set academic goals, explore the curriculum, and develop core values for the classroom community. Circles are used to help prevent harm and conflict by helping to build a sense of belonging, safety, and social responsibility in the school community. Additionally, circles are used when harm happens. Depending on the gravity of the harm, these conflict circles may include the person who did the harm, the person who was harmed, parents of both parties and a facilitator. Why is Restorative Justice a better approach than quick removals? Restorative Practices not only reduce out-of-school suspensions and expulsions, but also reduce the actual incidents of harm to the school community, making it a safer place for all students. RJ improves student engagement and achievement. Here are a few examples of Restorative Justice in action: Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) instituted a RJ program at Cole Middle School in Oakland that reduced suspension rates in its first year by more than 75%, and reduced violent fights and expulsions to zero. Schools in Oakland Unified School District using RJ saw a drop of 24% in chronic absenteeism from 2010 to 2013, while chronic absenteeism at non-RJ schools in the district increased by more than 60%. Reading levels for 9th graders at RJ high schools increased by 128%, compared to 11% at non-RJ high schools.” At Richmond High School, the suspension rate has fallen from 61% in the 2010-11 school year to 9.9% in the 2013-14 school year.36 Several schools in Marin County are implementing Restorative Practices and using a peer resolution approach have seen reductions in suspensions and bullying. 36 CDE Dataquest Where can I go for additional information, resources and research? Oakland Unified School District - implementing RJ to build community and respond to student misconduct. www.ousd.k12.ca.us/restorativejustice Restorative Justice Online – a service of the Prison Fellowship International Centre for Justice and Reconciliation which provides intensive information about Restorative Justice http://www.restorativejustice.org International Institute for Restorative Practices - an international graduate school committed entirely to the teaching, research and dissemination of restorative practices - www.IIRP.edu 30 How we can fix school discipline