District Considering Restorative Justice

District Considering Restorative Justice from ABC Channel 20 News (Springfield)

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Students break the rules and when they do there’s a punitive system in place in most schools.

But other schools are handling discipline problems a different way and Springfield District 186 is looking into those practices to see how it could work here..

The school board recently came back from a trip to Chicago where they saw restorative justice in practice and board president Mike Zimmers said he was very impressed with the results, so much so that he was inspired to bring the practice here to springfield.

“It’s an alternative to suspending kids from school, expelling kids, it’s just another step in the process which they have instituted which is working for them. We can’t educated students if we don’t have them in our building,” said Zimmers.

For those used to a more punishment focused approach restorative justice might not feel like enough, but experts say it’s been proven to be more effective than just kicking kids out of school.

“There are still consequences that come with restorative practices: community service, writing apology letters, being held accountable face to face with the person you harmed is really difficult, a lot harder than going to court and being sent to jail,” said Sara Balgoyen, Executive Director, Illinois Balanced and Restorative Justice Project (IBARJ).

The district is in the beginning phases of research. Board President Mike Zimmers wants to discuss the idea with other board members and see what kind of training they can give to teachers, but both he and the Superintendent think it could be a very beneficial practice.