Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and Spalding University are teaming up to host a three-day summit to highlight and train educators on restorative justice practices.
The Restorative Justice Practices Training Summit, being held March 14-16 at Spalding, will educate school administrators, teachers, staff and school resource officers about the methods of restorative practice, a social science that seeks to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and restoring relationships.
“Restorative practice has been a valuable tool in guiding how we respond to conflict and misbehavior in the classroom while emphasizing safety and accountability,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “Our ultimate goal is to utilize these strategies to decrease referrals and improve school attendance.”
JCPS has turned to intervention strategies such as restorative practice and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports in recent years to proactively manage student behavior. The district implemented a restorative practice pilot at 10 schools this fall, with another eight schools to be added in the 2018-19 school year. Preliminary data indicate that restorative practice elementary and high schools were outperforming the district on suspension incidents, suspension days and in-school suspensions, while two of the three middle schools in the pilot have shown recent improvements in the suspension data.
“We look forward to hosting JCPS leaders and resource officers on our campus to learn more about restorative practices,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said. “At Spalding, we’ve made restorative practices a priority and believe they are a thoughtful, compassionate way to manage conflicts and build community. Spalding has implemented restorative techniques and methods on our campus to help find solutions and understanding in a range of settings.”
The first day of the conference is designed for professionals who work in K-12 educational settings and are interested in finding ways to implement restorative practice in their schools.
School resource officers will take part in the second and third days of the conference, which will include training and offer examples on how to utilize authority in restorative ways. The focus will be on fostering positive relationships with students and how to implement talking circles – controlled group conversations designed to promote dialogue about difficult topics and offer all parties equal time to talk freely in a safe setting.
In some cases, restorative practices are also being used as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system in Louisville. With restorative practices, the offender and victim volunteer to participate together to express what harm has been done, who is responsible for repairing that harm and how can that harm be repaired, according to Restorative Justice Louisville, whose offices are located on Spalding’s campus.
The International Institute of Restorative Practices and local law enforcement agencies will all be partners in the training. In addition, JCPS Behavior Support Systems Department Coordinator Naomi Brahim and resource teachers Angel Jackson and Ronzell Smith will present, along with Spalding Director of Forensic Psychology and Restorative Studies Dr. Ida Dickie and forensic psychology graduate student Mariya Leyderman. Dickie recently won the Kentucky Psychological Association’s Community Service Award.
The conference is being held at Spalding University’s College Street Building, 812 Second St.