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Case Studies

Articles discussing the use of restorative practices in individual cases.

Restorative Practices and the Transformation at West Philadelphia High School
West Philadelphia High School has undergone a transformation. It has been on Pennsylvania’s “Persistently Dangerous Schools” list for six years, but the implementation of restorative practices and strong leadership, headed by principal Saliyah Cruz, have made a huge difference. The culture and climate of the school have improved significantly, violent and serious incidents have plummeted, and rates of discipline procedures such as suspensions and expulsions have decreased dramatically. (from the article written by Laura Mirsky for the Restorative Practices E-Forum).
Tyrell, Jerry and Hopkins, Belinda. Citizenship in action--restorative justice in action
In this paper, Belinda Hopkins and Jerry Tyrell describe their involvement in initiatives designed to apply the principles and values of restorative justice in schools in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They discuss ways in which schools began to use various conflict resolution processes (e.g., victim-offender mediation, conferencing, peer mediation), but eventually saw a need for a school environment that would be restorative and reintegrative in response to conflict and wrongdoing. This led to work with students and staff in schools to teach and foster a comprehensive approach based on restorative justice principles and values, with corresponding practices.
Rourke, Brent. Restorative justice through the eyes of a high school assistant principal
Brent Rourke is an assistant principal at Boulder High School in Colorado. This article consists of an interview with him not long after Boulder High initiated its restorative justice program. During the several months of the beginning phase, the program was employed to hold six community group conferences for offenses such as theft, harassment, fighting, and vandalism. Through the interview, Rourke discusses the goals of their restorative processes, the decision when to use conferencing in particular situations, student response to the processes, and the unique aspects of restorative justice in a school setting.
Knight, Lorrie. Creating Safe Schools with Classroom Meetings
Lorrie Knight is Dean of Students for Albion Central School District in Orleans County. Her primary responsibility is the discipline of 1200 students. Here is her story about the use of circles with children in public schools. (author's abstract)
Porter, Abbey J. Restorative Practices at Queanbeyan South, an Australian Primary School
Restorative practices have proved a success at a primary school in Australia, where teachers have discovered that discipline works much better when the children themselves take part in the process. A few years ago, Queanbeyan South Public School, in New South Wales, just outside the Australian capital of Canberra, was struggling with persistent problems of bullying, violence and absenteeism among its pupils. Conventional punishments like detentions and suspensions didn't seem to help. "We were just chasing our tails," recalled teacher Elizabeth Harley, who said that disrespect for authority and low self-esteem were common among the students. (excerpt)
Allena, Thom and Rogers, Nora. Conferencing Case Study: Hazing Misconduct Meets Restorative Justice--Breaking New Reparative Ground in Universities
While the Fraternity Executives Association officially discourages hazing in fraternities and sororities, the ritual of hazing is commonplace in Greek life at many large universities. It is employed often enough as a rite of passage – involving mental or physical discomfort, harassment, or ridicule – for those pledging to join a fraternity or sorority. Hazing frequently involves the use of alcohol, and it sometimes leads to unintended and harmful consequences. Thom Allena and Nora Rogers chronicle in this chapter a sorority hazing incident in a large public university in recent years. The incident resulted in physical and emotional injuries to two pledges, and it produced considerable adverse publicity for the sorority and the university. Allena and Rogers describe the incident and its consequences, as well as the response of university officials. In particular, they focus in detail on how university officials used a restorative justice intervention – actually, a hybrid of the community group conference model and “Open Space,â€? an organizational development approach employed to find common ground with large groups and organizations – to address the harmful effects of the hazing.
Ramsey, Jon. Integrity Board Case Study: Sonia's Plagiarism
Plagiarism is a significant problem on college campuses. In this study, Jon Ramsey tells of a case of plagiarism by a particular student, whom he names “Sonia.â€? As he remarks, he has changed her name and some details of the case to preserve confidentiality about the misconduct and the people involved in adjudicating it through a college integrity board. This is important to do, he observes, yet it runs somewhat counter to the openness generally valued in restorative justice theory and processes. In describing the plagiarism and its handling by the integrity board, Ramsey explores traditional assumptions about lines of authority in a college, individual and community responsibilities, and the efficacy of excluding offenders from or reintegrating them into the learning community.
Hastings, Don and Becidyan, Vané. Integrity Board Case Study: Pellet Gunshots in the Night
An integrity board, as practiced at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, is a restorative justice approach to student judicial affairs. In this chapter Don Hastings and Vane Becidyan illustrate the use of the integrity board model through a case study based on an actual incident at a small college in upstate New York. (They have changed the names and a few facts to respect the confidentiality of the involved parties.) Two college students at the college were charged with violations of the state penal code due to their firing of a pellet gun out of their dormitory room window. While their case was tried in the city’s criminal court, the students were also brought before the college’s integrity board. Hastings and Becidyan describe the composition of the board, the parties involved in the case, the hearing process, the negotiation of a restorative contract to address the actions and harms, and reflections on the case by Hastings (the board’s administrator) and Becidyan (the board’s student chair).
Walker, Lorenn. Beyond Policy: Conferencing on Student Misbehavior
In this article Lorenn Walker looks at the use of conferencing to deal with student misbehavior. Conferencing is a process for conflict resolution. It focuses on repairing relationships when offenders admit wrongdoing. The process brings together the parties who have a stake in the conflict and its potential resolution: victims; offenders; families and friends; and communities. While it is often used in criminal justice settings, many are employing it in school settings as well. Walker recounts the story of using a conference to deal with her own son’s victimization by another student in school. She describes the conference process, the Real Justice model of conferencing, and benefits of conferencing in terms of addressing the infraction and in decreasing repeat offenses.
Miller, Stacey. The offspring of restorative justice: Understanding the power of restorative practices in residential communities.
Without question, restorative practices has its roots in the field of restorative justice. Originating in the 1970s as an accountability tool that allows victims to be heard and offenders to understand their impact, restorative justice is a complement to conventional criminal justice processes, focused on repairing harm, rather than only on punishing offenders. Several decades later many student conduct offices on college campuses adopted restorative justice as a key component to their conduct philosophies and methods of traditional sanctioning; however, there has been a shift to not only focus on repairing harm, but to find ways to proactively build community. At the University of Vermont, the Department of Residential Life has used restorative practices as an innovative community development model to cultivate communities of care and mutual respect. This article explains the connections between restorative justice and restorative practices and will highlight how restorative practices is used in residential environments. (author's abstract)
Claassen, Roxanne. From Principles to Practice
Roxanne Claassen, an eighth grade teacher at Raisin City Elementary School, introduces the "Principles of Discipline That Restores," written by her husband Ron, who is co-director of the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University. Claassen’s school has adopted their "Making Things Right" curriculum, and she explains how the restorative principles were applied successfully in a serious conflict between two girls over a boyfriend.
Nelson, Tanya. Merrill Middle School Meets Restorative Justice.
Schools are a microcosm of our world. They demonstrate the outcome of our investment, the potential, and its continuous need to adapt to changing times. Walking into an elementary school, middle school, high school, you may actually be able to feel this. Conflict is palpable much of the time. On the surface, Merrill Middle School in Oshkosh, WI, has a lot working against it. Oshkosh is a largely blue collar town and about 50% of Merrill's students are from families at or below poverty level. Many families are unable to stay an entire school year.Relationships are difficult to establish. How has Merrill brought it all together? In 2003, it ended its "honor level" approach to discipline in favor of a restorative justice approach. By creating circles and a core concept of restorative justice, staff and students have joined forces to create better communication when problems occur. (excerpt)
Botha, M. Elaine. Christian Scholarship for Reconciliation? The Free University of Amsterdam and Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education
The theme of this chapter deals with the question of whether the two mnodels of Christian scholarship pursued by the two institutions [Free University and Potchefstroom University] actually contributed to societal reconciliation - reconciliation within racial and ethnic tensions as they have become apparent in South Africa. This narrows the focus of of reconciliation to a societal and political focus, which in turn shapes the question of whether a university as an academic community can or ought to in any way contribute to or become involved in the resolution of such tension. (excerpt)
Ted Glynn and Rawiri McKinney and Janice Wearmouth. Restorative Justice: Two Examples from New Zealand Schools
In this article Janice Wearmouth, formerly professor of education at the University of Wellington, New Zealand and now at Liverpool Hope University, Rawiri McKinney, an advocate for Rangatahi who has recently completed his Master of Education degree, and Ted Glynn, foundation professor of teacher education at the University of Waikato, discuss two examples of restorative justice in practice to illustrate how community norms and values can help to encourage more socially appropriate behaviour. Both examples come from a New Zealand Maori context and interventions undertaken with young men whose behaviour was of concern in school and in the local neighbourhood. The interventions operated through traditional Maori protocols to shift the focus away from individuals on to the whole community in order to focus on 'putting things right' between all those involved in the wrong doing. These examples show how the use of traditional community resolution processes was able to resolve tensions, make justice visible and re-establish harmonious relations between the individuals, the school and between members of the community. The use of restorative practices in schools is not straightforward, however. The authors of this article argue that it requires that schools do not own or completely control the process but are responsive to the local context and recognise the important sources of support that may be found in some of the families and local voluntary community groups within it for addressing problematic student behaviour.
Petrick, Krista M. Tucker. This Teacher's Experience with Restorative Justice and Restorative Practice: A Narrative.
This narrative evaluates 1 teacher‟s journey through the use of restorative justice and restorative practice (RJ/RP) in education. The author sets out to explore how RJ/RP could be used to reduce suspensions and expulsions in schools as well as having a positive impact on stakeholders when implemented through a whole-school approach. Through the use of reflective journaling and autobiographical narrative, the author arrives at suggestions for how large Ontario school boards could implement RJ/RP programs and track their success. (Excerpt).
Kummery, Glenn and Taylor, Bruce R. Family Group Conferencing
In a school close to Philadelphia, administrators are increasingly using family group conferencing to handle disciplinary problems amongst their students. The article describes how conferencing works and the positive effects it has had.
O’Farrell, Eimear M.. The effects of participation of school children as mediators in contrast to non-mediators in a mentored mediation program as related to academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation.
This study focused on the effects of elementary students’ participation in a mentored peer mediation program during a school year as it related to three variables, academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation. Phase I, academic achievement, focused on the relationship between participation in this program and academic performance on the California STAR tests in English Language Arts. Archival data from approximately 1,180 upper grade students in seven elementary schools were studied to examine this relationship.Phase II, the developmental disposition component, aimed at gaining an understanding of the multidimensional nature of empathy. It focused on the cognitive responses of individuals, as well as the emotional facets of perspective taking as students engaged in mediator experiences. The instrument used to assess this component was the Davis Scales of Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which measured separate aspects of empathic reaction. Conflict Orientation was measured using a free-response questionnaire, providing a qualitative data component. Two hundred ninety seven upper grade students at five elementary schools participated in the dispositional and conflict orientation components. Four school districts with diverse socioeconomic, demographic, and ethnic representation were included in the study. Phase I data indicated that grade 5 was a critical year in the mentored mediation program, impacting academic achievement at a significantly greater level than the two other upper grade levels. The data suggested that grade 5 students may have benefited from two years of participation as mediators before realizing academic gains. Decreases in sixth grade participation due to attrition led to diminished representation of mediators. This perhaps accounted for the minimal academic gains evidenced at that grade level. Phase II data provided evidence that students demonstrated higher levels of developmental disposition and positive orientation toward conflict management when participating as mediation facilitators than when participating as nonmediator disputants. Mediators tended to implement effective conflict resolution skills, while non-mediators sought out peer mediators to resolve conflicts. It is hoped that the results of this study will contribute to the sustainability of mentored peer mediation programs in schools, by providing a clearer understanding of the interconnections among academic achievement, developmental disposition, and conflict orientation. (author's abstract)
Umbreit, Mark S and Armour, Marilyn Peterson. Restorative Justice Dialogue: An Essential Guide for Research and Practice
This book provides a comprehensive foundation for understanding restorative justice and its application worldwide to numerous social issues. Backed by reviews of empirical research and case examples, the authors describe the core restorative justice practices, including victim-offender mediation, family group conferencing, and peacemaking circles, as well as cultural considerations, emerging variations in a wide variety of settings, and the crucial role of the facilitator.
Lange, Brenda. CSF Buxmont: The Power of Community.
The restorative approach means that those in authority at CSF Buxmont work with the students rather than doing things to them or for them. It’s been shown that people are more likely to make positive life changes and adjust their negative behaviors, and be happier, more cooperative and more productive through this approach. Unlike an authoritarian, punitive or overly permissive approach, the participatory or restorative mode enables the students to restore relationships and build community. The restorative model shows the youth that he or she has control over and responsibility for his or her own life. Most people will embrace this approach, which allows them more autonomy and participation in decision making. And at CSF Buxmont, this learning happens in a safe place. The students learn that this community is one in which they are all equal, working hard to reach similar goals and working together to arrive at solutions to problems that come up along the way. (excerpt)
Kerényi, Mária. About the Jumpstart Programme of the Zöld kakas líceum.
Looking for new solutions is how we found restorative techniques — conflict resolution conferences, to be precise. We’ve learned this method and have successfully employed it to mediate all types of conflicts — conflicts between two students, between a student and a teacher, and also between two teachers. We have succeeded in integrating this method into our daily lives to such an extent that when someone walks down the corridor with a plate of cookies, the students start going, ‘Aha! There’s going be a Face to Face.’ By now, everyone knows what we use this method for, and exactly what is going to happen. (excerpt)

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