This fourth Supportive School Discipline Webinar Series event provided the knowledge that school, district, residential facility, and court staff; law enforcement and legal personnel; youth; families; and other community stakeholders need to better understand how restorative justice principles, when applied to school discipline practices, can stem the school-to-prison pipeline. With the potential of teaching conflict resolution skills, fostering understanding and empathy, and building stronger relationships in schools and communities, restorative justice has proven to be an effective alternative to punitive and exclusionary responses to problem student behavior.
The Webinar featured Dr. Mara Schiff, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University, who provided an overview of restorative justice, its key principles, and its potential impact on transforming the school discipline landscape. She was followed by Ms. Rita Alfred, Co-founder of the Restorative Justice Training Institute, who shared her work translating restorative justice principles into the school setting to identify critical intervention points and prevent students’ unnecessary involvement with the justice system. Finally, Ms. Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Restorative Justice Coordinator for the Mennonite Central Committee U.S., discussed her work training schools in the implementation of restorative justice practices, focusing on the important role everyone has to play in transforming culture and discipline responses.