Culture and Climate Corner: Restorative Justice at Three Partnership Schools
Leading the Way in School Culture and Discipline
By Tanya Franklin
“Transformational.” – Teacher at Gompers
“Wonderful experience.” – Student at Markham
“Creating solutions that will not hurt other people.” – Student at Roosevelt
These are just some of the ways restorative justice has been described in its first year of implementation at three Partnership schools. With the generous support of The California Endowment and the technical assistance of the California Conference for Equality and Justice, Roosevelt High, Markham Middle and Gompers Middle Schools each received a Restorative Justice coordinator and training to develop and implement restorative practices this past school year.
Restorative justice is a component of the School Climate Bill of Rights passed by the LAUSD in May 2013, which also calls for an end to suspensions for “willful defiance” and the promotion of positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS). Roosevelt, Markham and Gompers were three of only five LAUSD schools that implemented restorative justice in the 2013-14 school year and the first year of progress has been significant.
Among the many successes, suspensions are down and positive interactions are up. Suspensions have been reduced by 65% at Markham and 85% at Gompers. In addition, the out-of-classroom discipline referrals have decreased by 29% and 41% (Markham and Gompers, respectively). At Roosevelt, the disproportionate suspension rate for students with disabilities has decreased by 34% and the Restorative Justice Task Force is a new collaborative body of teacher, staff, student, and community leaders working together on school-wide campaigns like Anti-Bullying Week and the Hope Campaign (pictured). Across the three schools, communication, respect, and empathy have been practiced in over 400 community building circles and 80 conflict circles with students. A February report presented to the LAUSD Progressive Discipline Committee explains more of the practices and progress, and an annual report will be out this summer.
The Partnership wants to thank the RJ Coordinators on campus – Nyoka Acevedo at Gompers, Gilbert Salazar at Markham, and Michelle Ferrer at Roosevelt – for their tremendous work this year. Our students are building better relationships and being more respectful and responsible because of the foundation you’ve helped to strengthen.
Tanya Franklin is the Director of School Culture and Restorative Communities at the Partnership.