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Mara Schiff, Ph.D. Florida Atlantic University and president,

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1 Effective Restorative Justice Strategies for Enhancing Supportive School Discipline
Mara Schiff, Ph.D. Florida Atlantic University and president, peaceworks consulting, Inc.

Examine the current state of school discipline Explain and clarify the elements and goals of restorative justice in schools Examine the research supporting restorative justice in schools Consider current restorative justice policy at the school district, state and federal level Propose the expanded use of restorative justice for minimizing the disparate impacts of exclusionary school discipline

To keep drugs and weapons out of schools To emulate retributive justice interventions such as mandatory minimums and structured sentencing To provide consistent consequences in proportion to harm caused

4 School-to-Prison Pipeline
Unintended Consequences of Exclusionary Discipline Disproportionate Minority Exclusion School-to-Prison Pipeline Student “Push- Out”

5 WHAT THE DATA SAY: There is no evidence that ZT results in safer schools or increased academic achievement (APA, 2008) ZT punishments put students at greater risk for: decreased connectivity to school, increased participation in risky or illegal behavior, poor academic achievement and dropout (Boccanfuso and Kuhlfield, 2011 Cassalla, 2003). There’s what we think, or intuit, and then there is what the evidence actually says…

6 WHAT THE DATA SAY: School suspension/expulsion increases chances:
that students will be held back a grade, not graduate, and become involved in the justice system (Fabelo et al, 2011). of subsequent suspension, expulsion and dropping out (Osher, 2010; Balfanz and Boccanfuso, 2007; Skiba and Rausch, 2006). Higher suspension rates  lower academic achievement and standardized test scores, even when controlling for factors such as race and socioeconomic status (Davis et al, 1994; Mendez, et al., 2003; Skiba 2006).

7 WHAT THE DATA SAY: Black students:
Are more likely to be suspended and expelled for minor infractions (Advancement Project, 2005; Losen and Skiba, 2010). Represented only 17% of public school enrollment in 2000 but accounted for 34% of suspensions; special education students represented 8.6% of public school students, but 32% of youth in juvenile detention nationwide (Advancement Project, 2005; NAACP, 2005). With learning disabilities are three times more likely to be suspended than similarly situated white students and four times more likely to end up in correctional facilities (Poe-Yamagata and Jones, 2000).

Florida: Students of color (mostly Black students) in Florida represent just 22 percent of the Florida school population, but 46 percent of both school suspensions and referrals to juvenile justice (Advancement Project, 2005). Philadelphia: Black and Latino students are far more likely to be suspended, transferred to alternative schools and arrested than White students; Colorado: Black students were over twice as likely as White students to be referred to law enforcement and Latino students were 50 percent more likely than White students to be referred to law enforcement; OHIO: Black students were nearly five-and a-half times more likely to be suspended out-of-school than White students in 2007.

9 DISPARITY Tragically, there is consistent and increasing evidence that Black students are subject to harsher sanctions for comparable or lesser infractions than White students, or are punished for disruptive behavior that is ignored for White students. (Fabelo et. al, 2011; Losen and Gillespie, 2012; Advancement Project, 2010).

10 SO… and can it help?

Restorative Justice has been proven to reduce suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary referrals and is modeled after approaches used in juvenile justice and now increasingly applied in schools for dealing with youth misbehavior, rule violations and for improving school climate. (Karp and Breslin, 2001; Lewis, 2009; Kane et al. 2007).

12 RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: Views crime or harm primarily as a violation of individuals, relationships, and communities that "creates obligations to make things right" (Zehr, 1990) ”Justice" is about repairing the harm caused to victims, offenders and community. To the greatest extent possible, restorative processes seek to rebuild relationships damaged by crime and other conflicts. Rj is fundamentally about repairing harm, including stakeholders, rebuilding relationships and holding youth accountable.

Repairing Harm Including Stakeholders Shifting Government/ Community Roles Accountability Safety Reintegration

A restorative response includes two primary components: 1) a non-adversarial and dialogue-based decisionmaking process that allows affected parties (known as “stakeholders”) to discuss the harm done to victims, while considering needs of all participants and, 2) an agreement for going forward based on the input of all stakeholders about what is necessary to repair the harm directly to the persons and community (Bazemore and Schiff, 2010). Aim of RJ is an inlcusive process that considers what harm has been caused, what was the impact, and who is responsible. I tis followed by a collective agreement for making amends and repairing the harm.

What law was broken? Who’s fault is it? (who did it and who do we blame?) What do they deserve? (What should the punishment be? How should we punish them?)

16 In this context…. Responding to “breaking the law” is not teaching socially conscious behavior, nor showering the violator with love and compassion, nor questioning the societal conditions that breed crime and misbehavior, indignity and disrespect to others. Rather, we punish the individual offender to “teach him a lesson.”

Who has been hurt and what harm was done? What are their needs? Who’s obligation is this? (What repair is needed and who is responsible?)

18 In this context…. The response to harm is to include victims, communities and offenders in identifying what happened, who was harmed and what must be done to repair the harm. This is done through dialogue, listening, building relationships and ensuring accountability.

Create a restorative and inclusive school climate rather than a punitive one; Decrease suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary referrals by holding youth accountable for their actions through repairing harm and making amends; Include persons who have harmed, been harmed and their surrounding community in restorative responses to school misconduct; Reengage youth at risk of academic failure and juvenile justice system entry through dialogue-driven, restorative responses to school misbehavior.

focus on relationships first and rules second; give voice to the person harmed and the person who caused the harm; engage in collaborative problem-solving; enhance personal responsibility; empower change and growth; and include strategic plans for restoration/reparation (Amstutz & Mullet, 2005). The goal of RJ in schools is a dignified response to harm and misconduct that allows students, teachers and administrators a voice in what happened and what needs tp be done. Rather than simply doing “to” an offender, RJ is about doing “with” him and allowing him a dignified way to take responsibility and make amends.

21 Benefits to Person(s) Harmed
Has a VOICE and a CHOICE in the process Process is less intimidating, less formal Root causes of conflict uncovered Can express needs for reparation Experiences increased satisfaction Positive resolution and reparations facilitate healing A way to feel some power, safety, or reassurance Usually, the person harmed has no say in what happens, and while punishment may occur, nothing is really ever resolved. Most people who have been hurt want to know why they were singled out, and want to put things right so they can move on.

22 Benefits to Person Who Commits Harm
Understands affects of his actions on others Develops empathy Repairs harm (meets needs of victim) Takes responsibility Becomes part of solution Learns from experience Changes future behavior A CHANCE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS, AND BE PART OF THE SOLUTION VS THE PROBLEM AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN FROM WHAT HAPPENED, DEVELOP EMPATHY, AND UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF THEIR BEHAVIOR OPPORTUNITY FOR ASSISTANCE TO ALTER OR CHANGE HARMFUL BEHAVIOR It’s very important to REINTEGRATE the person who commits harm. Actions that serve to isolate him/her only add to his/her problems, and the less connected a person feels to the school community, the more apt they are to commit harm. On the other hand, when a person feels connected to his/her school community, he/she is more likely to become engaged and less likely to commit harm.

23 Benefits to School Community
Students learn conflict resolution skills Focus is on inclusion, not exclusion and isolation Negative incidents decrease School climate improves Empowerment increases Personal responsibility increases Deals with underlying problems/issues Acknowledges harm to community Establishes norms, values, culture and accountability The entire school community – including teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and staff benefit from a more peaceful school community. Students also benefit as their academic performances tends to improve when there is less conflict in the school setting. Teachers like their jobs better because they can teach; students like school better because they feel safer and included.

24 Benefits to Broader Community
Community involvement increases Relationship to school strengthens Community members feel their children are safe Students know community cares Community experiences less conflict Communities around schools WANT TO KNOW that their children are safe at schools! Restorative approaches, especially those that actively involve community members from outside the school, all students to see themselves in relationship with a larger community – one who cares about them.

25 For School Administrators, Teachers, Staff
Involves others in problem solving to eliminate second-guessing (too harsh/too lenient) All parties agree to participate in decisionmaking process and information is shared

At this time, restorative practices in schools are known to exist in: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin –> APPROXIMATELY 40 PERCENT OF U.S. STATES Restorative Practices include: restorative mediation conferences circles school accountability boards daily informal restorative meetings classroom circles restorative dialogue restorative youth courts peer mediation RJ is being increasingly and effectively applied throughout the US. There are a variety of forms of RJ practices, and each school may choose those that work best in their own environment, The best approach is a whole school approach where all actions and their responses are dealt with restoratively.

27 RESEARCH Outcomes City/State Restorative Process Outcome Source/Year
MINNESOTA, MN Circles, Conferences, Mediation Referrals, Suspensions: 48%-63% Minnesota Department of Education, 2003, 2011 DENVER, CO Classroom meetings, panels, conferences Police Tickets % Out of school suspensions: % Expulsions % Advancement Project, 2010 Gonzalez, 2012 PHILADELPHIA, PA Circles Suspensions % Violent/serious acts 2007/ % 2008/ % Lewis, 2009 Point here is that they all go DOWN

28 RESEARCH Outcomes City/State Restorative Process Outcome Source/Year
OAKLAND, CA Whole school restorative justice’ circles Suspensions % Expulsions = zero Sumner et. al, 2010 CHICAGO, IL: Restorative peer juries Suspension Days 1000 days Ashley and Burke, 2009 PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL Circles Suspension days in 2 schools Referrals % Absences % Schiff, 2012

29 RESEARCH Outcomes City/State Restorative Process Outcome Source/Year
PORTLAND, OR Restorative meetings Suspension Days 71 days 2008/09 108 days 2009/10 Gonzalez, 2011 BALTIMORE, MD: Whole school restorative justice 88% from AY 08/09 to 09/10 Ashley and Burke, 2009 LANSING, MI Restorative Practices Suspension % ST. LOUIS, MO Whole school RJ Circles Suspension severity 27%

“Since [the RJ program] has been on our campus, our suspension rate has dropped by 40% and our in-school suspension rate has decreased by approximately 50%.” PBL Assistant Principal “…students like being ‘heard’…many of our students… don’t even know certain actions are wrong. This opens the door to teach students acceptable and appropriate behaviors, behaviors that will be expected of them in mainstream society.” PBL Teacher “[The program] allows students an opportunity to be accountable of rather actions in a non-threatening way with a productive positive outcome being the end result.” PBL Reading Teacher Sometimes even more importantly that quantitative data are the qualitative responses of those who have experienced RJ processes.

“… I realize that I was doing things that I shouldn't have been doing and making big mistakes…I learned …in this process is that I have a bad attitude and I could do better for myself.” PBL Student “…I have gained self confidence and have found myself helping others. I realize that they are capable of being accountable for their actions. I have also learned how to be a better person by not judging others. Santa Fe Student “… I realize that I have come a long way from where I was then. I have become a bigger person and have learned to think about my actions before I do them… If I talk about a problem… I can keep myself from doing something I may regret later. I used to believe that I didn't have much control over how I react to events, but now I realize that it’s up to me how I react and I can’t blame my anger for all my problems.” PBL Student

Restorative program implementation varies significantly from classroom to classroom and school to school. Key Issues: Training Subject matter Methods and materials Policy priority Varying economic, political or social conditions Other mandatory program implementation (PBIS, SEL, RTI)


Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the 3rd largest school district in US Since , the CPS Student Code of Conduct reflects “a comprehensive approach to student discipline and include[s] components of restorative justice, alternatives to out of school suspension, and additional measures…”  The CPS code of conduct encourages the use of age appropriate discipline and balanced and restorative justice strategies, including student, teacher and parent conferences, detention, in-school suspension and referral to school peer jury in lieu of suspension. 

As of August 2008, Denver Public Schools discipline policy includes restorative interventions. Restorative justice is the official policy of The Oakland Unified School District The RJ program lowers suspension and expulsion rates and fosters positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the prison pipeline.

In 2009, the San Francisco Unified School District unanimously voted to replace some student suspensions with more “restorative repercussions.”  Instead of simply suspending students who violate school rules, restorative interventions will be used. The Safe and Healthy Learners Unit at the Minnesota Department of Education has used restorative measures for over a decade. Since 2008, Minneapolis Public Schools has offered restorative justice services for students recommended for expulsion.

In May 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District – the second largest school district in the U.S. -- elected to ban suspensions for “willful defiance,” and to establish new school discipline policy whereby restorative justice will be used to support “disruptive” students (Perez, 2013). Goal was explicitly to reduce disparity for students of color.

In 2012 the School District of Palm Beach County (the twelfth largest District in the nation): included restorative justice in its menu of disciplinary options available to all county public schools created eight new positions to help implement restorative practices at about 16 schools However, RJ is no longer a priority in the District. Also as of May 2013, the Fresno, California School Board adopted a resolution to create and implement a school discipline framework of restorative practices (Mumma, 2013).

NEW YORK – largest U.S. school district. NYC Schools Chancellor says “the city cannot force a school to become restorative; it's a cultural shift that needs to come from a committed group comprising representation from teachers, students, parents, and the principal.” Restorative approaches are included in the Citywide Standards of Intervention and Discipline Measures, Student Code and Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities as of 2012 ( FINAL.pdf).

40 RECENT STATE POLICIES In 2009, Florida amended Section 3. Section of its school discipline policy policy “to encourage schools to use alternatives to expulsion or referral to law enforcement agencies by addressing disruptive behavior through restitution, civil citation, teen court, neighborhood restorative justice, or similar programs…” In 2011, Colorado’s HB required proportionate disciplinary interventions to reduce the number of school expulsions and referrals to law enforcement including plans for appropriate use of prevention, intervention, restorative justice, peer mediation, counseling, or other approaches to minimize student exposure to criminal justice system by August 2013.

Restorative Justice in Schools Act (H.B. 415; Cohen, D-Tenn) would allow school districts to use ESEA funding to train teachers and counselors in restorative justice and conflict resolution and help save countless hours lost to school discipline each school year. Successful, Safe, And Healthy Students Act (S. 919; Harkin, D-IA) includes funding and technical assistance for implementing positive, preventive approaches to school discipline like restorative justice and school wide positive behavior supports.

42 A Restorative Justice Story

43 CONCLUSION Zero tolerance and other exclusionary discipline policies in schools do not work. Restorative justice is an effective, evidence-based nonpunitive disciplinary response based on repairing harm, including stakeholders and accountability. RJ helps educators, juvenile justice professionals and community members collectively and collaboratively reengage youth in school, keep them off the street and out of the juvenile justice system. Restorative justice strategies work best when developed and used in collaboration with community input.

44 CONTACT INFORMATION Mara Schiff, Ph.D Florida Atlantic University President, PeaceWorks Consulting, Inc National Association for Community and Restorative Justice

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