What are “Restorative Justice Practices”?
Restorative Justice Practices, or RJ, are frameworks rooted in relationship building and rebuilding, designed to create a culture of equity and belonging that rethink how we view conflict and results in healing and learning. The Empowerment Zone, in partnership with the South Bend Community School Corporation, embraces Restorative Justice Practices ensuring that all, including those who have been harmed, will have their needs and experiences recognized and acted upon, thus creating a supportive climate of empowerment for all. In some cases, students may be separated from their assigned school building, but never completely separated from their education.
Why Restorative Practices in the Empowerment Zone?
Restorative Practices have been shown to have a positive effect on school climate, culture, and academics (including improved student attendance, test scores, and graduation rates), and on outcomes related to discipline policies and practices including reductions in discipline referrals, violent and serious incidents, and punitive and exclusionary discipline responses.*
While these are powerful enough reasons to shift to a restorative approach to education, teachers and students will point to more personal reasons for why it is important. Students report a greater sense of belonging, voice, and empathy while teachers report greater experience of connection with students and satisfaction in their jobs.
Restorative Practices Embedded in Our Behavior Supports Process
We know we are embodying Restorative Justice Practices when we are…
- Every student has (at least) one adult at school they trust and can talk with
- District employees feel valued, heard, and respected
- Responses to harm seek to repair the harm done to those impacted
- Arriving at solutions by involving those affected and impacted
- Creating a safe environment and empowering all to have a voice, especially those who usually aren’t heard
- Creating the opportunity for everyone to understand how our actions impact others and take responsibility for them
- Building classroom norms and expectations together and working together to address situations when they’re not followed
- Approaching situations when things go wrong as an opportunity for growth and learning for everyone involved, and especially for whoever caused the harm
- Creating the environment in which everyone can take responsibility for their actions
- Working together so that solutions meet the needs of those harmed
- Giving voice to those who have caused harm
Allowing growth, personalized learning, and inclusion to occur
- Finding ways for all to feel safe and supported through and beyond the transition
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