NYSSBA report highlights alternatives to school suspension, potential ways to improve "school climate"

FOR RELEASE: April 27, 2017

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell


The practice of "restorative justice" has emerged as an option to help schools improve their climate and consider ways to reduce student suspensions, according to a new research report entitled "Rethinking School Discipline," by the New York State School Boards Association. 

Under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act, states may include school climate or elements of school climate --  such as suspension rates, absenteeism and school safety -- among the "school quality indicators" they would monitor and use to help schools improve. 

Restorative justice brings together face-to-face the parties involved in a conflict or incident to address the incident, rather than using traditional suspensions and expulsions to reduce problem behavior, according to the report. Led by trained staff, restorative justice techniques include restorative circles, mediation and group conferencing. 

In addition to keeping students in school and, therefore, reducing student absenteeism, studies suggest restorative practices result in less school violence and fewer student infractions. 

However, often one of the most frequent obstacles to implementing restorative justice is lack of buy-in from staff, according to a NYSSBA poll of superintendents. The report notes that educators and staff may view the practice as "too easygoing on students." 

The report highlights best practices for restorative justice implementation in school districts based on survey findings, literature and feedback from higher education scholars, superintendents and practitioners in the field. 

"This report is intended to help school board members make informed policy decisions about how to implement restorative justice and improve school climate," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. 

To read the report, go to http://www.nyssba.org/news/2017/04/27/reports/rethinking-school-discipline/.



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