Fix School Discipline Toolkit for Educators - Page 47

this person’s duties are distinct and separate from that of a dean or other school staff who may also engage in punitive discipline. Ultimately, when RJ works, it is possible that all deans can instead be RJ Coordinators. I recommend that to get started a school receive training in RJ for the entire staff and begin doing community building circles just with school staff and incorporating circle into professional development. RJ is a way of being and communicating so it’s not an alternative just for students; everyone should be expected to interact this way. Additionally, educators should know that the goal of RJ isn’t just to reduce suspensions, although this is incredibly important. The goal is also to reduce the incidents that would have precipitated a suspension in the first place. We need to focus on the preventative aspect to truly change school climate and culture Highlight: Davidson Middle School San Rafael City Schools When and why did you decide to start implementing restorative practices and peer courts at Davidson Middle School? Former Principal Harriet MacLean: This was a three year process. When I first came to Davidson as principal at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year, there was a phenomenal amount of disrespect. We gave surveys to teachers, parents and students that included statements like “I feel respected by teachers,” “I feel respected by students,” or “I feel respected by the administration.” Unfortunately, 65% of all three groups disagreed or strongly disagreed. One of the reasons for feeling disrespected came from, I think, the tracking system at Davidson. White students were tracked into honors classes and black and brown kids were tracked into regular or remedial classes. We also learned that the traditional method of punishment was not working. We would send students out of school and they would go home, play video games for two days, come back and nothing was different. Understanding this led to a philosophical change that inspired a shift from punitive practices to restorative practices. This shift was very gradual. That first year, we began dismantling the tracking system and building a system and curriculum that would address all students at all levels. In the second year, 2009-10, we were working out what we could implement to help the 5th graders transition to 6th grade. Through this work, we found CorStone, a non-profit that develops and implements programs and services for marginalized adults and youth in San Rafael. Karen Junker came to Davidson as a CorStone coordinator to facilitate restorative practices. During that year, we implemented community building circles with our faculty and in some classes, which resulted in suspension reductions by about half. 6th Grade Teacher and Coordinator of Culture and Climate, Karen Junker: In the third year, 201011, Dr. MacLean hired me on as a 6th grade Math teacher and as Coordinator of School Climate and Culture. Since I was already trained in restorative practices we began implementing restorative circles school-wide. Next we had 12 classified and certified staff members trained in “Solution Team”, our bullying intervention program. In February 2011, we learned about the Marin Peer Courts and I received training in the peer court model from them and began to implement the peer courts as a suspension diversion towards the end of that year. After this year, the teachers were so pleased with how things were going that they wanted to put a policy in place. Our School Discipline policy is a one pagechecklist that includes restorative steps that must be taken before a student is referred to the office. What happens when a student misbehaves at Davidson? MacLean: We follow the Cal. Ed Code and school board policy. There are a few times where we still have to suspend and there is a list of things for which we “shall” recommend expulsion. However, there is only a “shall” for a few things; everything else is at the administrator’s discretion, including what we choose to do when students return from suspension. When those students return they still go through our restorative processes. They have a restorative circle with the person who they harmed, tea