In the 2014 – 2015 school year, Manual High School in Indianapolis enrolled 550 students and tallied 850 suspensions. Last year, there were only 343 suspensions. What made the suspension rate fall so steeply? Manual instituted a program called “restorative justice.”
Modeled on an approach taken in schools in Denver, Oakland, and Pittsburgh, the restorative justice system helps resolve conflicts by creating a peer jury that talks to students who are having problems about what happened, what they could have done differently, and how to fix the damage. Students also get the chance to make amends before being suspended; for example, a student who graffitis the school may have to help the custodial staff during lunch.
The number of Manual High School students with multiple suspensions has dropped from 71 to 12 since restorative justice was put in place. According to Anne Gregory, a Rutgers researcher who studies school discipline and restorative justice, this decline suggests that students are learning from the process.
At Elevate Teachers, we’re happy to see students being taught more than just academic skills. We love seeing things like character and conflict resolution being instilled in students!
What do you think of restorative justice? Leave a comment below.