Having a person to talk to about anything from family, drama at school, or if you just need to let out some thoughts is a really nice key thing at school.” – 8th Grade Student
OC Human Relations Restorative Schools Program seeks to address the ineffectiveness and disproportionality that arises in more traditional school discipline systems by bringing a Restorative Justice perspective to the school setting. Accomplishing this goal requires the school community to commit the time and resources necessary to create a school culture focused on the core values of respect, relationship and responsibility. When contracted by a school, OC Human Relations will work collaboratively with school community stakeholders to embed Restorative Practices, a combination of community-building and restorative justice techniques, in the following areas:
Area of Focus Objective Classroom & School-wide Culture Build community, de-escalate conflict and foster accountability in a positive supportive environment in the classroom and across the campus Restorative Discipline Intervention Directly engage those involved in and impacted by an incident in understanding what happened and deciding how to make things right Community-engaged Support for At-risk Students Support individual students by bringing them together with community members in a collective process to understand their needs and provide avenues for success
Having this program has helped us grow closer as a school. Chelsea is always there when we need her and always has an open mind when it comes to problems.” – 8th Grade Student
Successful implementation involves providing a Restorative Practices [RP] Coordinator with a designated space on campus to perform the following functions:
Consulting Bring a Restorative Justice perspective into school-wide planning initiatives as well as program implementation and evaluation efforts Modeling Lead RP activities where school community members can experience a restorative approach firsthand Training Provide a series of training and workshops in RP techniques accessible to the whole school community- teachers, administrators, students, and parents Mentoring Work directly with individual staff members to effectively and authentically embed RP skills in their everyday work in the classroom and across the school campus Managing Cases Provide an opportunity for students referred for disciplinary action to participate in a Restorative Justice process in lieu of or in conjunction with standard school disciplinary protocols
Restorative Justice by the Numbers
OC Human Relations’ Restorative Justice Program is currently running in six Orange County Schools – Ball Jr. High School, Brookhurst Jr. High School, Columbus Tustin Middle School, Currie Middle School, Dale Jr. High School & Washington Middle School.
In 2017/18 our Restorative Justice staff offered:
- 170 Consultations
- 46 Mentoring Sessions
- 63 Modeling Sessions
- 74 Student Development Sessions
A total of 388 cases were referred to the RJ programs and 293 (75%) had a successful resolution.
Restorative Justice Story Highlights
At the start of the year, a 7th grade student was referred to RJ due to a conflict involving herself, her sister, and some 8th graders. A circle was held and successfully cleared things up and resolved the issue. That 7th grade student continued coming to the RP room regularly during lunch because it made her feel safe. Eventually, she began bringing in her friends and requested circles be held among all of them because she enjoyed the process. This group grew to ten students total and became the “Circle of Friends” which would meet weekly during lunch to have community building circles. The goal of restorative practices on campus is to make sure all students feel safe and secure on campus, and building a sense of community on campus, as the Circle of Friends did, reduces the need for conflict intervention work.
This past month, two past best friends, Marcie and Julissa (not their real names), had a falling out in their friendship. Marcie began to make new friends at school and avoided Julissa, causing Julissa to feel excluded, hurt, and upset towards Marcie. When word got around the school that, in addition to Marcie abandoning Julissa, she had also been talking bad about her, Julissa decided that enough was enough. She messaged Marcie on Instagram later that night, saying that Marcie crossed a line, she should shut her mouth, and that Julissa was planning to fight her with a group of her friends. Through relationships with students on campus, the Orange County Human Relations restorative justice specialist heard about the fight, now scheduled for Friday, and intervened. After meeting with both students, understanding the situation, and helping both girls understand how the conflict developed from one another’s perspectives, the girls were scheduled to have a restorative dialogue the next morning. With a great deal of preparation and emotional labor, Julissa showed up to the meeting with a detailed letter of apology to Marcie, acknowledging her wrongdoings and hurt feelings along the way. The girls both cried, mutually apologized to one another, and agreed to begin rebuilding the trust in their relationship. In addition, throughout each step in this process, a teacher from their middle school, trained in restorative justice, was able to observe and offer guidance to the girls in the process.
For more information, please contact Julie Vue, BRIDGES and Restorative Schools Program Director, at 714-480-6589 or [email protected]
Building community, responding to harm and conflict, and providing circles of support for the school community