8 – Partnership`s Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice at the Partnership
What is Restorative Justice in schools?
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a framework in which the entire school community can build and repair
positive relationships. RJ is a holistic approach to school culture and student discipline that helps to
develop the emotional intelligence and empathy of all in the school community. Through a process
called “circle,” students, staff, and even community members have an equal opportunity to speak
openly, listen with respect, and develop trust. When there is a disciplinary incident – what can be
seen as a breakdown in relationships – RJ provides a process for students to dialogue about the issues
and create agreements to heal the harm. Restorative practices improve school culture and student
discipline by focusing on respect, relationships, and responsibilities.
What does RJ aim to achieve?
Over time, RJ aims to reduce exclusionary discipline practices like suspensions and expulsions so that
students are in class, learning. Most immediately, restorative justice in schools aims to:
(1) Increase positive school culture and relationships between all students and staff
(2) Reduce the number of disciplinary incidents on campus
(3) Increase restorative responses to discipline referrals
How is RJ being implemented at Partnership schools?
Roosevelt High School began restorative justice last year and this year Markham and Gompers Middle
Schools have joined the movement. All three schools have fulltime Restorative Justice Coordinators
who are trained and supported by the California Conference for Equality and Justice. The RJ
Coordinators lead staff trainings, hold community building circles in classrooms and with student
organizations, establish RJ Task Forces to plan and implement efforts, and conduct conflict circles
when harm occurs. The program is being monitored, evaluated, and supported by Mental Health
Advocacy Services with staff and student surveys, focus groups, and reports to provide data-driven
programming. The effort to improve positive culture at the school has been made possible by the
generous support of The California Endowment, which donated nearly $400K to the three Partnership
schools to launch or improve their restorative justice programs.
Why now?
The School Climate Bill of Rights, passed by the LAUSD School Board in May 2013, calls for an end to
suspensions for “willful defiance” and seeks to implement restorative justice in all of the more than
900 schools in LAUSD by the year 2020. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education and
Department of Justice recently released federal guidelines for non-discriminatory school discipline
policies and practices. By implementing RJ, schools like Gompers, Markham and Roosevelt are
leading the way for progressive school discipline reform so that all students are treated respectfully
and given an equal opportunity to excel. RJ in schools challenges and shifts school culture in a way
that is respectful and that provides true accountability and connectedness.
Updated January 2014