Restorative Justice in Oakland Schools
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a set of principles and practices employed in the Oakland Unified School District to build community and respond to student misconduct, with the goals of repairing harm and restoring relationships between those impacted. The RJ program in OUSD pilots a three-tiered model of prevention/intervention/supported reentry in response to conflict/harm. The RJ program works to lower our rate of suspension and expulsion and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the prison pipeline.
Highlights from the 2011-2012 school year include:
- Elimination of disproportionate referrals for suspension at Bunche Continuation School and United For Success Academy
- 46% decrease of out of school suspensions at Castlemont
- Trained over 200 staff in restorative practices including law enforcement
- Incorporated OUSD Conflict Resolution program (peer mediation) into the RJ continuum
- Developed modules of RJ trainings at all three tiers prevention/alternatives to suspension/re-entry
- Aligned program to Response To Intervention model and Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS)
OUSD Restorative Justice Program 2011-12 priorities are:
- Implement a three tiered model of Whole-School Restorative Justice (prevention, repairing harm & alternatives to suspension, and supported re-entry) at a minimum of ten pilot sites.
- Train and coach staff at pilot sites on implementing restorative practices within the classroom.
- Develop and fund a comprehensive evaluation of pilot sites to build an evidence base for RJ in schools.
- Train and empower youth to become restorative justice facilitators to build community and prevent violence in schools.
Programs and Services
The Restorative Justice initiative includes:
- Professional development and coaching support to ten RJ pilot sites throughout the District.
- Partnership with Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) to implement whole school restorative justice at Castlemont, Bunche Continuation School, and West Oakland Middle School.
- Integration of Positive Behavioral Supports and Social Emotional Learning at participating sites.
- Inclusion of parents and families to engage them in school climate and discipline issues.
- Alignment with City of Oakland Measure Y programs including community crisis response and support network, conflict mediation, street outreach, and Juvenile Justice re-entry to schools.
How Our Work is Part of the Strategic Plan
In support of OUSD's vision to become a Full Service Community District, the RJ program supports a positive, equitable, and caring climate with a focus on relationships. Restorative practices utilize effective conflict resolution processes that seek to identify and repair harm and are inclusive to the whole school community. The use of restorative practices in schools has been shown to:
- Decrease referrals for suspension and expulsion
- Increase the feeling of safety at school
- Increase attendance rates and teacher retention
- Provide an equitable school-wide and classroom environment
- Provide a foundation and process for positive youth development and social emotional learning