Restorative Justice & Discipline

Restorative Justice is an alternative to using punishment to manage unwanted behavior. Instead of looking at broken rules with a view to  punishing the rule-breaker, Restorative Justice asks, “Who is affected and what needs to happen to heal the harm?”

Three Shifts Toward Restorative Schools and Classrooms

Shift... From... To...
1 Efforts to suppress misbehavior based on the view that misbehavior is evidence of failing students or classrooms. Recognizing and using the inherent value of misbehavior as an opportunity for social and emotional learning.
2 Authority-driven disciplinary actions that focus only on the identified misbehaving students. Restorative circles that bring together everyone who is most immediately affected by the incident.
3 Punishment and exclusion is used to control misbehavior and motivate positive behavior changes. Dialogue leading to understanding and action to set things right and repair and restore relationships.

What are the results of restorative practices?

There is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of restorative practices in schools. Evidence shows that restorative practices can result in:

  • Reductions in disciplinary referrals to principals
  • Reductions in suspensions and expulsions
  • Reductions in amount of instructional time lost to managing student behavior challenges
  • Improved teacher morale
  • Improved teacher retention
  • Improved academic outcomes
  • Reductions in disproportionate referrals of students of color and students with disabilities.
Source: Teaching Restorative Practices in Classroom Circles

Restorative Justice at PVPA

Restorative Justice at PVPA is a tiered behavior prevention and response framework, high on support (helping students reach expectations) and accountability (holding students to expectations). 

A 4-quadrant chart showing low and high accountability on the left and low and high support on the bottom. The upper-left quadrant (high accountability, low support) is labeled "Punitive," lower-left is "Neglectful," lower-right is "Permissive," and upper-right is "Restorative."

Restorative Justice prioritizes time being spent in proactive community-building circles and teaching staff and students communication and conflict resolution skills, giving our community members the tools to resolve conflicts on their own. We strive to follow a model of 80% preventative teaching and community-building and 20% harm response.

  Restorative Justice
Tier 1: Whole community
  • All students and staff use community building circles to learn circle process
  • All students and staff practice communication and conflict resolution skills
Tier 2: Approximately 10-15% of students who need additional support/accountability
  • Class circles to address whole-class issues
  • Teachers use restorative dialogues to work through adult-student conflict
  • ROOTS Peer Restorative Justice used to resolve low-level peer-peer conflict
  • Opportunities provided to make amends and heal harm
Tier 3: Approximately 5% of students with the highest need for support/accountability
  • Restorative circles and conferences to address serious matters
  • Traditional discipline  and restorative justice used in partnership