We've implemented restorative justice programs in five New York City high schools aimed at strengthening relationships school-wide.
In New York City, there are often stark discrepancies in school suspension rates based on race, gender, and disability. In partnership with New York City's Department of Education, our restorative justice in schools project operates in five Brooklyn high schools with elevated suspension rates whose students overwhelmingly come from communities of color. Using restorative justice practices, the program works with school staff and students to build relationships, to address conflicts, and to reduce exclusionary discipline.
Researchers from the Center for Court Innovation are evaluating the initiative’s effectiveness through a randomized controlled trial, assessing whether it improves overall school climate and culture and reduces inequities.
More About the Program
The Center for Court Innovation’s approach to restorative justice seeks to promote individual responsibility and participation, repair harm, and build relationships. Center staff respond to the unique needs of each individual school, as well as to the context of the surrounding communities.
1. Relationship-building circles within the school: Our staff work to familiarize students with the circle process, helping students and teachers to develop empathy and engage with each other in a more meaningful way. Students practice communication skills, as well as improved listening and focusing skills.
2. Responding to harm: Our program offers circles as an alternative to suspension or other forms of exclusionary discipline for students in crisis, or for students returning to the school following a prolonged absence. Addressing harm or preparing for student reentry involves all members of the school community, including teachers and families.
3. Broader community participation and wrap-around support: The program has a designated community partnerships coordinator responsible for community outreach. The coordinator acts as the main liaison between the school and community organizations, police, and social services, working to identify necessary supports for parents and students.