Billed as an alternative to suspension and expulsion, restorative justice efforts are transforming discipline, and classroom culture, across Southwest Florida.
Restorative practices avoid punishments that result in a student leaving school (like suspension) in favor of repairing harm caused by a violation, addressing its root causes, and returning a student back to the school community.
Proponents for restorative justice in Florida schools say it improves both a school's climate and discipline. And educators in Southwest Florida say its working: data from the Lee County School District credits restorative practices with a drop of more than 40 percent in the number of suspensions handed out in Lee County middle schools and high schools in the last semester. In Charlotte County, a committee now reviews suspension and expulsion offenses, reducing expulsions to just ten instances in the last four years.
Thursday at 1 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, Institute for Youth and Justice Studies director Dr. Sandra Pavelka explains the concepts behind the restorative justice movement and how the practice has been implemented in schools across the country.
Joining the program with insight, and data, about restorative efforts in Southwest Florida schools are Dr. Michael Desjardins from Charlotte County Schools and Dr. Peter Bohatch with the Lee County School District.