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Limits of school-based restorative justice in reducing school suspension

Jun 06, 2013

from the entry by Irene Sheppard on Restorativity:

....As I have chronicled in some previous posts, Restorative Practices/School-Based Restorative Justice is being taken more and more seriously as a way to reduce the harmful effects of school suspension.

Certainly, when students are being suspended for the relatively minor infractions that compose a great fraction of the reasons for suspension, at least in the Detroit data–verbal abuse, talking back, violations of dress code, possibly even substance abuse–suspension makes no sense, and teaching students to be respectful of others by promoting affective communication and empathy makes perfect sense.  Even serious violations of student behavior that do not pose a grave physical danger to others may be perfect candidates for school-based restorative practices.

But students seriously threatening others, or contributing to an environment where students are afraid to participate or to study, may be another.  This distinction strikes me as being similar to the concerns of non-school-based restorative justice practices:  that restorative justice should be voluntary and victim-focused, with the safety of the victims paramount.

Detroit and Los Angeles–two school districts with serious behavior issues and suspension rates–are both trying school-based restorative justice in a big way, and measuring the results.   It will be interesting to see the results.

Read the whole entry.

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