Restorative Practices in Schools

Restorative Practices in Schools

We collaborate with San Luis Valley schools and after-school sites to help build cultures focused on restorative principles. Schools are all unique. As such, we design individualized timetables, trainings, and interventions for each setting.

Our goal with Restorative Practices (RP) in Schools is to work deeply with a school district at building and sustaining a restorative school culture. This includes strategic planning work with school districts to outline their desired goals and outcomes over a 4-6 year window. We work with districts to assess the strengths of their school culture and identify areas we can continue to grow together. We seek to empower school leaders, educators, and support staff to embed restorative principles and practices deeply into their school culture. This helps ensure that students and families feel connected to and supported by their school. Ultimately, students are not pushed into a school-to-prison pipeline. Instead they are empowered to succeed and flourish.

We offer the below services to our school partners:

Whole-school culture assessment

CRP works with school districts to assess their existing strategies for creating a restorative school culture. This includes a review of ongoing social-emotional learning efforts, school policy, discipline protocol, and discussion with key team members.

Whole-school Restorative Practices planning and implementation

CRP works with school districts to develop work plans to increase the use of Restorative Practices in a district over an “implementation science” time-frame. This is typically 4-5 years. This occurs through:

  • Collaborative policy review and revision
  • Training for staff and administrators on Restorative Practices philosophies, strategies, proactive and reactive intervention techniques, and related content areas such as trauma responsive practices.
  • Modeling of Restorative Practices such as classroom relationship building circles, affective statements and questions, restorative classroom interventions, and restorative circle/conference processes in lieu of suspension/expulsion.
  • Coaching and observational support for teachers and administrators in Restorative Practices strategy/technique implementation.
  • We help schools fulfill social-emotional grants, as well as grants associated with serving at-risk youth, and/or positive youth development.
  • We support school efforts around PBIS and MTSS.
  • We offer whole school Bullying Prevention Training for adults and youth.
  • We offer to teach youth peer mediation skills.
  • We work with school staff to ensure school-created plans include a relationship and asset-based approach (IEP, 504, RtI, Safety plans, Attendance Agreements, etc.)
  • We offer professional development training around relationship building and conflict resolution in schools.

Our Impact

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Students Served

Students were at-risk for truancy, suspension, expulsion, or chronic absenteeism in the 2019-2020 school year.

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Connections Made to Reduce Conflicts

Worked with individuals including local partners, service agencies, and local families.

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1:1 and Small Group Trainings

For local educators, transportation teams, MTSS staff, and more.

Success Stories

A large success is seeing the many positive interactions between school staff and families over attendance, truancy, chronic absenteeism, “ditching”, and more importantly the barriers that exist around attendance for families. There are so many reasons why a student may be missing school. Meeting with the families and deeply listening to what is happening has been essential. It has provided opportunities to support families and be an active partner in solving problems. This has led to increased instructional time for students and an opportunity for families to divert from truancy court.

During the pandemic, CRP partnered with multiple school districts to help reconnect schools with 100% of students and staff when asked to move to remote learning, supported schools in launching engagement and outreach campaigns, and helped schools to identify unique barriers for families in our community during this time. Helping schools stay connected, maintain relationships, and bridge conflict was in high demand.

“CRP has given us the tools to hold students accountable without punishment and shame and support student success while honoring families.”
— Wendy Willett, MTSS Coordinator

“Our Restorative Practices have helped my students learn how to handle their own problems and communicate their feelings more effectively. Thank you CRP!”
— Michele Crispeol, 4/5 teacher Creede School District.

“I attended a multi-day Restorative Practices professional development and while I left still skeptical of the approach, over the last few years I have come to see the value of the techniques and processes used. I work to build positive relationships with students and their families, teaming up with co-workers to support students who are challenging, and to see the bigger picture when correcting students and their behaviors.”
— Eric Palmer, Assistant Principal, Ortega Middle School, Alamosa, CO

“CRP has been there for us when we needed an extra hand to deal with the most difficult mediation situations. They are professionals and experts in their mediation skills”
— Luis Murillo, Principal at Skoglund Middle School in Center

“As a new team member in the Alamosa School District, I am so grateful for our partnership with CRP. Honey is my go-to girl when it comes to mediations and problem solving. The Center for Restorative Programs is critical for restoring family and school relationships in the San Luis Valley. I am honored to be partnered with them, and believe every community should have a CRP.”
— Dana MacFarlane, EARSS Behavioral, Interventionist & Counselor
Ortega Middle School, SLV BOCES

Our Program Funders

Local Partners

Currently, CRP is actively working with the Alamosa School District and Creede School District on whole school Restorative Practices implementation. CRP is also providing support “as requested” to additional districts throughout the San Luis Valley, and has actively partnered with all 14 districts at various times and at varying levels over the past 20 years.

State Partners

Resources for Restorative Practices in Schools

The Colorado Restorative Justice Coordinating Council (RJ Council)
The Colorado Restorative Justice Coordinating Council (RJ Council) was formed via HB07-1129 by the Colorado State Legislature. Our mandate is to provide training, technical assistance, and education related to Restorative Justice in the state of Colorado, support the development of Restorative Justice programs, and serve as a repository of information for those programs.

National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ)
The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice promotes effective forms of justice that are safe, just, equitable, sustainable, reparative, and socially constructive, addressing not only crime, but conflict, incivility, injustice, and all forms of harm. NACRJ hosts the biennial National Conference of Community and Restorative Justice, and provides supports for members.

Teaching Tolerance
Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors, and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Educators use our materials to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create civil and inclusive school communities where children are respected, valued, and welcome participants.

Implementing Whole School Restorative Justice
Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is an RJ site with resources designed for a Restorative Practices Facilitator to support their school to create an implementation plan to introduce Restorative Practices.

FAQs for Restorative Practice & Justice in Schools

Schools are seeking ways to create a safe environment for their students, but incidents of bullying and violence still pervade. Student suspension rates are still high and many argue that forbidding students from coming to school exacerbates, rather than remedies, the problem. Suspension and expulsion may also lack effectiveness since they deny conversation between involved parties about underlying issues and unmet needs, nor do they offer alternative strategies for handling behavior issues effectively or navigating conflict tactfully and nonviolently. Basically, suspension and expulsion skip over the teaching point.

Strong restorative culture makes responsible repair of harm the norm when disciplinary situations arise. This is done through fostering a shift in thinking from who broke the law or school rules, what law/rule was broken, and what is the punishment, to who was harmed, how we meet the needs of all involved, and how to repair what has been harmed. – RJ Council Colorado

Both happen in schools. Restorative Practices is proactive and preventative in nature. It helps to build relationships and resolve conflict. It typically happens before harm has occurred. Restorative Justice, on the other hand, is responsive to harm and happens after the wrongdoing has occurred. Often, repair of harm and reintegration are included with Restorative Justice.

Relationship, Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Reintegration

Building a restorative school culture based on relationships and respect among members of the school and community is the starting point for Restorative Practices in Schools. They enhance collaboration and problem solving, create a culture of inclusiveness and personal responsibility, and generate higher levels of engagement and satisfaction. – RJ Council Colorado

Restorative Practices in schools are philosophically based in fostering relationships, strengthening understanding, repairing harm, and building strong communities. Identifying and addressing the needs and harms that occur when there is conflict in the school community by cultivating empathy and modeling conflict resolution skills serves students and adults alike. Restorative Practices, when implemented with fidelity, create a safe space for connection and dialogue. When facilitated by trained practitioners, Restorative Practices lead to a more equitable and inclusive environment for students, staff, families, and community members. – RJ Council Colorado

  • Allowing all voices to be heard and respected
  • Understanding the impacts of behavior
  • Increasing responsibility for actions
  • Repairing harm caused by behaviors
  • Reduced recidivism
    • Increased safety
    • Stronger community
    • Empowerment
    • Meaningful dialogue
    • Recovery & satisfaction
    • Opportunity to repair harm
    • Resolution

Restorative Practices in schools “have been shown not only to decrease suspension rates anywhere from 40% to 80%, but also resulted in a nearly 50% drop in absenteeism and a 60% decrease in tardiness.” – RJ Council Colorado

Contact CRP

If you have questions please email or call 719-589-5255.