Restorative Justice Practices
The fundamental premise of Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) is that “human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when people in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.” There are two RJP tiers – “The Circle” which is the first step intervention piece and “The Conference” which is a non-punitive philosophical approach to discipline which repairs harm done, teaches accountability for offenses and how to move forward without shame.
The restorative circle structure establishes equality, safety, trust, responsibility, facilitation, ownership and community connections, as well as building a strong and supportive relationship among students and teachers in the classroom, improving academic performance. problem solving, reducing bullying and conflict. It gives students a chance to tell their stories and to participate in the classroom setting in a way that is very different from the traditional classroom structure.
The Restorative Conference
The first step of conferencing is the pre-conference. The pre-conference is conducted by an RJP facilitator. The offender/offenders, victim/victims are interviewed separately in the pre-conference to establish criteria for a successful conference. The offender/offenders must admit to wrongdoing before the conference can be held. If all parties are in agreement the RJP conference is conducted. The goal of this conference is to repair the harm that has been done and to move forward without shame. There is an intended script that is strictly followed by the facilitator. At the end of the conference all parties come to an agreement and a contract is signed by all participants. Follow-up check ins as needed. This intervention is used within the discipline process.
Either type of Restorative Practice can be initiated by students in response to events. Students in Ethnic Studies, SAIL, and Student Leadership will receive instruction on Restorative Justice Practices as part of their regular class curriculum.