This fourth Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series event provided the knowledge that school, district, residential facility, and court staff; law enforcement and legal personnel; youth; families; and other community stakeholders need to better understand how restorative justice principles, when applied to school discipline practices, can stem the school-to-prison pipeline. With the potential of teaching conflict resolution skills, fostering understanding and empathy, and building stronger relationships in schools and communities, restorative justice has proven to be an effective alternative to punitive and exclusionary responses to problem student behavior.
The Webinar featured Dr. Mara Schiff, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, who provided an overview of restorative justice, its key principles, and its potential impact on transforming the school discipline landscape. She was followed by Ms. Rita Alfred, Co-founder of the Restorative Justice Training Institute, who shared her work translating restorative justice principles into the school setting to identify critical intervention points and prevent students’ unnecessary involvement with the justice system. Finally, Ms. Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Restorative Justice Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee U.S., discussed her work training schools in the implementation of restorative justice practices, focusing on the important role everyone has to play in transforming culture and discipline responses.
As a result of participating in this session, participants were able to:
- Understand the key principles of restorative justice
- Examine how restorative justice can prevent students from unnecessarily entering the justice system via referrals from school
- Identify the potential positive impacts of restorative justice on school and community safety, student engagement and achievement, and overall student and staff well-being
- Plan how to apply restorative justice principles to school discipline approaches using examples from some jurisdictions
This Webinar is appropriate for school district superintendents and allied staff, community- and residential facility-based school administrators, teachers, and support staff, school climate teams, student support personnel, school resource and security officers, probation/parole officers, law enforcement, judges and court administrators, legal personnel, and youth, family members, and other community stakeholders.