Evidence shows that overly punitive school discipline policies and practices that remove students from the classroom disproportionately impact students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students. Many schools have turned away from zero-tolerance discipline policies that impose automatic sanctions upon students. And many schools are seeking alternatives to exclusionary practices that remove students from the classroom, including out-of-school suspensions and expulsions. Public outcry has also inspired some schools to end corporal punishment and the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. Many districts are instead exploring how to implement restorative practices. The goals of restorative practices include to intervene and promote positive and inclusive school climates. Restorative practices hold the promise of ultimately putting an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and helping to eliminate racial and disability disparities in how discipline is meted out in schools. They can also better foster students' social-emotional growth, support positive behaviors, and promote prevention-oriented and systemic reform.
This panel provides an overview of the school-to-prison pipeline and restorative justice in schools, highlighting the research on best practices and examining the role of restorative practices in dismantling the pipeline. The panelists also share their challenges and successes with restorative justice, examine what effective implementation looks like, and the use of restorative justice within the juvenile justice system.