Continue Restorative Justice Funding for Resolutions Northwest

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Resolutions Northwest (RNW) has been partnering with Portland Public Schools (PPS) to implement equity-based restorative justice since 2010. However, their contract has been reduced for 2018-2019 school year and will refocus exclusively on facilitating escalated adult situations.

Reducing the amount of resources dedicated to restorative justice (RJ) and pulling all RJ work connected to teachers, students and families in-house is concerning for a number of reasons.

Community partnership and engagement is essential in implementing restorative work with fidelity and integrity. Community-based partners:

  • Can offset historical distrust of systems and can be a connecting link to schools.
  • Can call attention to issues steeped in power imbalances that may otherwise be ignored.
  • Ensure professionally trained staff to provide specialized restorative support to students, families, teachers and staff.

PPS, like most districts around the country, employ mostly white staff, especially teachers. With PPS’s contract, RNW has been able to employ five people of color, 90% of whom grew up in Portland and have attended PPS schools. Cutting this contract is cutting those staff who have profound relationships of trust with students and families across the district and heavily reduces the amount of restorative services, trauma sensitive and social-emotional support they will be able to provide.  

The Ask: Continue to fund two RNW Trainer/Coaches that will collaborate with the District RJ specialists to support building-level implementation and district-level training.

This is still a 60% cut to the existing contract, but given budget cuts across the district it would at least prioritize maintaining a critical community partnership to support the groundwork laid thus far.

I strongly encourage you to reconsider cuts to the RNW Restorative Justice contract.