Effectiveness of Restorative Discipline in Alternative Schools

Behavior and discipline are major issues in our classrooms and campuses today. Traditional discipline, behavior management strategies that have been used in the school systems over the centuries, has been connected to the school to prison pipeline; removing students from the class and the education that they are in need of, allows for students to fall further into the cracks. According to the ACLU, “This failure to meet educational needs increases disengagement and dropouts, increasing the risk of later court involvement.” (2018). Teachers are spending too much time on discipline and discipline procedures and not enough time teaching students and meeting their academic needs. According to Barbetta, Norona, and Bicard in their 2004 study, “Many teachers face larger class sizes, more students who come from stressful, chaotic homes, and increased diversity in students’ abilities and cultures.” (2005). Traditional discipline practices, including student suspension and expulsion adversely impact student achievement and graduation rates by removing students from the classroom, thus impeding their learning. Restorative Discipline and Restorative Justice have been discussed as an alternative to suspensions. The purpose of Restorative Practices is to improve and repair relationships within a community, in this instance, the school community. Restorative Practices has its roots in many ancient religions, especially Aboriginal and Native American religions, many studies show that most eastern religions do have a connection to this form of justice, as well. “The roots of restorative justice models also stem from traditional Aboriginal methods of conflict resolution that rely on community involvement and implementation of holistic solutions. The continued overrepresentation of Aboriginal peoples in correctional institutions in Canada has led to demands for more (Aboriginal) traditional approaches, such as sentencing circles, for Aboriginal offenders,” according to Canada’s Effective Discipline 5 Department of Justice. This study is analyzing the possible benefits of student engagement and attendance with the inclusion of Restorative Practices in Alternative School settings.