Problems Problems Problems…
The problem is simply that traditional methods of discipline in schools are not
working. For example, a student gets into a fight, gets suspended, and sits at home for 5
days. This type of so called “punishment” is not punishment at all. Largely students stay
home for 5 days and see it as a vacation... How many do not actually learn a lesson from
sitting at home “on vacation” After an interview with a student who was suspended
earlier this year, we learned, not many. We asked him the following questions.
What did you learn from your suspension? What did you do on your 7 days of
suspension? Did you get in any trouble at home? What was the outcome when you came
back to school?
In his honest opinion, he says he learned absolutely nothing from suspension. During the
time he was suspended, he went to work with his dad and made a good amount of money.
His parents weren’t mad at him at all. When he came back to school he had straight F’s
and missed a football game and a few days of practice getting those grades up. Once they
were up. It was like nothing happened at all.
. From the year of 2007-08, our school had a total of 52 suspensions out of 300+
students. Our district of 6400 students had a total of 737 suspensions, an 8th of the total
districts students. If you add up the days of school these students had off all together it’s
3685 days which is…about 10 years..
Our district out of school suspension rate is 11 %. Adams 12 which is about 8 times are
size with 40,000 students has a suspension rate is 12.8% Our district is increasing in our
suspension rate, compared to a district that is expected to have these problems such as a
larger urban district like Denver Public School district with 75,269 students. They have a
suspension rate of 13.4% if our school district had that many student is makes me wonder
how high our suspension rate would be considering there is a 2.4% difference between
the two. These numbers are important to look at because is very obvious and apparent
that we have a discipline issue in our schools. Discipline issues are not something that we
should take lightly. In our district the total unduplicated count of students in offence is
651 students which is 10%. When the number is duplicated the number of offenders also
duplicates and is up to 19% this shows that students who do get in trouble, possibly
offended do not learn a lesson. In the school district Adams 12 their unduplicated amount
of student offenders is 11% when the number is duplicated it jumps to 21% This also
shows that not only does our just our district have a problem with duplicate offenders,
other districts do as well. In fact, in each school district (Adams 12, Adams 14, and DPS)
the duplicated amount of offenders all jumped up 10% more. This shows that again
shows that students do not learn a lesson from traditional discipline.
Your questions you may have concerning this would be, how do we fix the
problem? We propose, Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice a disciplinary program has
to be a sort of, “Mutual agreement.” Both parties involved in the problem have to agree
with each other on how they want to go about dealing with it. If one of the parties is not
willing to participate in solving the problem then the options are reduced. Both parties
then have to come to terms and make it pleasing for both. If neither of the parties agree
with what is put on the table then the formal justice system will be put into play. This is
what makes restorative justice a better, more formal and professional form of discipline.
We believe restorative justice should become a school wide policy and new way
of discipline. We are told we are to act and be professional in our school environment, yet
we are still disciplined as any other student. As the professionals we are known to be, we
believe that restorative justice would be a better way of discipline, accepting the
consequences of your actions and trying to give back for those actions is only the start of
a better school environment that has been totally trashed into something that is definitely
not the professional environment as we claim to be. To follow through with this plan we
will need to get it accepted by our administrator at Welby New Technology, Mr. Mann.
We would have to test run it here at Welby to see the results. Once it is working well
here, we can start the movement of restorative justice across the district.
One alternative policy to traditional discipline would be MEC (Mapleton Early
College) in Mapleton district 1 in Denver, Colorado. This is an alternative policy because
they are practicing a policy pretty similar to the one we are trying here at New Tech.
They have a senior which is following through with a restorative justice plan. A few
seniors and most of the teachers went to training in Colorado with a restorative justice
trainer. Now that they have been trained they can train others in being a restorative justice
leader. The way their plan works is if somebody has a problem they present to the teacher
they then decide if it should take a restorative justice response or a traditional discipline
response. The student that committed the offense will receive a referral if it has chosen to
take the traditional discipline. Circumstances may depend on the conflict, there are non-
negotiables that in fact must result to suspension of expulsion such as fighting, drugs,
alcohol, weapons, etc. that is because apart of the District policy and the district has zero
tolerance for these infractions it is If the conflict can go to restorative justice form they
plan it out.
Another school implementing restorative justice would be New Vista High School
in Boulder, Colorado. New Vista High has been using restorative justice in their facility
for 8 years now. They refer a disciplinary case to student facilitators who then organize a
conference that brings together the offender, the victim and the community to discover
what harm was done and how it can be repaired. They believe that people are changed
when they have an opportunity to interact in this way rather than just being suspended.
This is also the way that MEC handles their problems the restorative justice way.
1. "About Us | Adams County School District 14." Adams County School District
14. 15 Apr. 2009 <http://adams14.publishpath.com/about-us>.
2. Adams 12 Five Star Schools. 15 Apr. 2009 <http://www.adams12.org/>.
3. "2007-2008 Safety and Discipline Indicators." The Colorado Department of
Education. March 31, 2009. Colorado Department of Education. 15 Apr 2009
4. Cavanagh, Tom. "Restorative Justice." Restorative Justice. 27 Apr 2009
5. Hall, Kathy. "Restorative Justice." E-mail to Author. E-mail.21 April 2009.
6. Mamuzich, Zach. "Restorative Justice Circle." Mapleton Early College. Mapleton
Early College, Denver. 13 April 2009. Performance.