Restorative Practices Expand to Reform School Discipline
Across the nation, restorative practices have proven to be effective in lowering suspensions and expulsions in school districts. The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) has agreed to invest in restorative practices to make similar changes in practice, climate, and culture.
The Skillman Foundation is supporting partners to provide restorative practice training to the 91 security guards hired in 39 high schools, alternative schools, and secondary schools for the 2019-20 school year. Unlike in the past, security guards will not report to DPSCD’s Police Department, but to the principles of their respective schools so that they are better aligned with school climate and culture efforts. These changes follow a 12 school pilot of internal security guards from the 2018-19 school year that received positive feedback from parents.
Unlike the District’s police force, the new security guards will not be armed and will receive higher pay than Securitas contractors. This adjustment is projected to save the District roughly $75,000. Plans are in place for these guards to receive Restorative Practice training to reinforce the District’s new climate and culture guidelines.
Additional Foundation investments include basic restorative practice training for all 110 school culture facilitators in every DPSCD school and deep training at its central office, enabling the district to conduct its own training going forward. This will represent the first time DPSCD holds internal training capacity in restorative practices since 2014.
Close partnerships between the Foundation and DPSCD through strategic investments help to ensure fidelity in practice and support. DPSCD staff and Every School Day Counts-Detroit partners recognize the need to address issues of culture and climate in schools as a key component of addressing Detroit’s chronic absence issue. There is also a strong correlation between violence by and against youth in the neighborhood with suspensions and expulsions, both in Detroit and across the nation. This current effort in DPSCD builds on past restorative practices work by the International Institute for Restorative Practices and Black Family Development, Inc. in schools and communities, as well as 2016 state policy reform that called for the use of restorative disciplinary practices over punitive ones.