Restorative Justice: A Different Approach to Discipline

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”Suspensions at Bunche High School, a continuation school in a high-crime, high-poverty community of Oakland, Calif., dropped by 51% last year. Disrespect for teachers has declined; the school is safer. Students are more focused on their studies and many have stopped cutting class.

Teachers at the school say these positive results are due in large part to a radically different approach to discipline called restorative justice: a bold alternative to the typical zero tolerance policies that lead to mandatory suspensions and expulsions. “Restorative justice is a major cultural shift from a punitive model to a restorative model,” said David Yusem, Program Manager of Restorative Justice for the Oakland Unified School District, one of the first districts in the nation to embrace the practice.”