Bartlett Education Center is proud to be a pilot school for Restorative Justice in Education (also called Restorative Practices). Bartlett Education Center is excited to partner with the Kentucky Center for Restorative Justice (KCRJ) for training and implementation of Restorative Justice in Education. This partnership is made possible by the Violence Prevention Pyramid Project Grant (Project Prevent) through the Department Of Education. For more information on KCRJ and Restorative Justice, please visit www.kcrj.us.
Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) offers a fresh, more holistic way of looking at discipline by focusing on repairing the harm done to people and relationships rather than on punishing the offenders.
The goal of Restorative Justice in Education is to reduce repeat offenders and while strengthening and building the school community by utilizing three Restorative Justice Processes:
- Restorative Circles
- Restorative Conferences
- Victim-Offender Mediation
Implementing restorative philosophy into Kentucky schools is a cost-effective strategy that promotes emotional resiliency, perspective, responsibility and healing while dealing with the repercussions of conflict. Restorative solutions have gained widespread prevalence in schools for its potential to positively influence human behavior and strengthen civil society. American education and society as a whole have experienced a crisis of:
- Dropout rates
- Other disciplinary problems
The aim of restorative solutions in school systems is to introduce and foster restorative principles and practices among staff and students to deal with conflict in school settings. When implementing restorative solutions in schools, traditional punishment - such as suspension or expulsion – are used only as a last resort.
Numerous studies have emerged with positive implications. From the outset of implementation of restorative programs in schools, disruption is minimized while quality instructional time is maximized. One study, Improving School Climate (Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Programs, showed that after only one year of restorative practice, there was a 30-60% drop in violent acts, serious incidents and disciplinary infractions. Restorative philosophy views misconduct as a violation against people and damaging to relationships in the school and throughout the community. The practice of restorative justice enables people to build and repair those relationships and communities through participatory learning and decision-making. With the potential of teaching conflict resolution skills, building stronger relationships and providing alternative approaches to discipline, many schools in Kentucky are exploring the use of restorative practices.
- Illinois: Over 600 schools implemented restorative solutions which included reduced disciplinary referrals and improved academic outcomes for students with positive results. Carpentersville Middle School office disciplinary referrals fell by 64% from 2005 to 2007 while the number of students that met or exceeded standard for 8th grade increased by 12.3% in Reading and 44% in Math.
- Florida: In a study of 102 schools after only one year of implementation, it was found that office disciplinary referrals fell by an average of 25% and out-of-school suspensions fell by an average of 10%.
- West Philadelphia High School: On the state’s “Persistently Dangerous School” list for six years, the climate improved dramatically after only one year of implementing restorative practices. Suspensions were down by 50% in 2007-2008. Violent acts and serious incidents dropped 52% in the 2007-2008 school term and then another 40% by December, 2008.
- Denver Public Schools: New restorative justice discipline policies were adopted in 2008-2009, resulting in a 68% reduction in police tickets in schools and a 40% reduction in out-of-school suspensions.
What are the benefits of implementing restorative programs?
- Improvement in the overall school environment that decreases stress and increases learning.
- Emphasized values of empathy, respect, honesty, acceptance, responsibility, and accountability.
- Prevention of and the ability to deal with conflict before it escalates.
- Effectively addressing behavioral and other complex school issues.
- Improvement in safety by preventing future harm.
- Alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
- Increase in social skills such as conflict resolution and critical thinking which can be valuable for students as they enter college, seek employment, build families and communities.