Restorative Justice and Peer Mediation at NTPS

Restorative Justice and Peer Mediation at NTPS

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River Ridge High School Black Student Union started this petition to North Thurston public schools

With documented accounts of racial disparity in discipline practices, a rise in school violence, and students who are unable to manage conflict using healthy measures, there is a need for restorative options to the restrictive and estranging practices of zero-tolerance discipline. The conventional disciplines of in-school suspension (ISS) and out of school suspension (OSS) reinforce the punitive system of the prison industrial complex. This petition is to break the school-to-prison pipeline by granting restorative measures to solve conflicts within the school regarding violence, bullying, and any other form of harassment and otherwise disruptive behavior to move away from punitive discipline and towards humanizing practices. Restorative justice will allow the students a chance to rebuild and repair conflicts through humane alternatives that builds community and does not create division through punishment. Peer mediation will be included in order to empower students in conflict resolution strategies for themselves and their peers (Karaon Solis and Drayden Alexander 2018).  

This petition calls for North Thurston School District to implement a robust, district and community-wide restorative justice and peer mediation initiative that will provide professional development for all employees and training for students and caregivers. Restorative justice practices are a series of responses to conflict and violence that offer alternative approaches to conventional disciplinary action (i.e., expulsion, suspension, and detention).  They focus on de-escalation, mediation, counseling, teaching non-violent conflict resolution, and other methods that emphasize community-building and reparations. Through restorative justice, schools become safer places where students are respected and are better able to learn. Peer mediation is problem-solving by youth including two or more students involved in a dispute. They meet in a private, safe and confidential setting to work out problems with the assistance of a trained student mediator. Many research studies concerning traditional exclusionary forms of discipline at the school level show overwhelmingly negative outcomes.

  • Zero-tolerance policies have led to larger numbers of youths being “pushed out” (suspended or expelled) with no evidence of positive impact on school safety (Losen, 2014). 
    There is racial/ethnic disparity in what youths receive school punishments and how severe their punishments are, even when controlling for the type of offense (Skiba et al., 2002).
  • More school misbehavior is being handed over to the police (particularly with programs that have police in schools, such as School Resource Officers), leading to more youth getting involved with official legal systems — thus contributing to a trend toward a “school-to-prison pipeline” (Petrosino, Guckenburg, & Fronius, 2012).
  • Research strongly links suspension and other school discipline to failure to graduate (Losen, 2014).

Research on restorative justice practices suggests improvement in school climate and culture with fewer acts of misbehavior as well as punitive discipline and narrowing of the nationwide “racial-discipline gap.” (https://www.iirp.edu/pdf/IIRP-Improving-School-Climate.pdf  Please sign the petition to let NTPS know that it is imperative that they immediately invest the time, energy, and money into restorative justice and peer mediation.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!