American School District Adopts Restorative Justice to Combat Suspension Rate
A school district in the American state of Tennessee recently chose to change the way their student discipline system works to focus more on restorative justice. The Shelby County school system, which includes the major city of Memphis in its area, recently trained about a hundred teachers in restorative justice techniques. The county is following the move of the nearby Metropolitan Nashville Public School system, which implemented restorative justice techniques for student discipline in 2014 and saw a significant drop in suspension rate. The hope is that by using restorative justice, which focuses on highlighting the reason why behaviours are problematic and reconciling the offender with society, the school systems high suspension rate is going down. Shelby County’s suspension rate is one of the highest in the state, and also tends to skew towards boys of BME background. Other school districts in the U.S., such as those of Chicago, IL, New York City, NY, and Los Angeles, CA, have already started using similar restorative justice techniques to some success. The move to restorative justice is part of a larger cultural shift within the school district, moving away from traditional exclusionary and punitive practices like suspensions and expulsions.