The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

The Student News Site of The Morgan School

The Morgan PawPrint

Restorative Practices: An Alternative to Suspensions

Perspectives: Consultant Freiberg, Superintendent O’Donnell
Rachel Spaziano

Restorative practices result in fewer suspensions and stronger staff-student relationships. Restorative practices, according to the International Institute for Restorative Practices, is “a field within the social sciences that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities.” The practices provide ways to create learning opportunities for students to grow as a person in life and school. They are built as a way to restore a community and repair many relationships lost in a school system.
For example, larger cities such as Minneapolis and Seattle have struggled with a rise in the mistreatment of students of color. This became more widely seen after the events of George Floyd. As a reaction, schools removed police from the buildings. Ultimately, this created problems where students caused more harm in the school district. To take care of the matter, school administrators handed out suspensions and disciplinary actions. This is harmful to the school community, especially the students receiving the discipline. Schools recognized the need and value of restorative practices.
Restorative practice replaced suspension and discipline with community building. Instead, students may help out in the community, and meet with teachers and faculty to talk about what went wrong and how to change the future. Students decide what to do next. It allows the student to take accountability by evaluating what they did wrong and using their understanding to create a better future. Students, teachers, and administrators all work together to improve the school environment and relationships.

The National Education Association (Rachel Spaziano)

According to The National Education Association, the goal of schools is to create a supportive environment for students to learn. The NEA said, “however, zero tolerance and other exclusionary school discipline policies contradict these beliefs and instead push kids out of the classroom at record rates.” The results of a study showed that “suspending students does little to reduce future misbehavior for the disciplined students or their peers, nor did it result in improved academic achievement for peers or perceptions of positive school climate.” NEA supports restorative practice because it creates a positive culture and a better learning environment within the school.
Jo Ann Freiberg is a private Education Consultant with School Climate Consultants who specializes in restorative practices. She explains that restorative practices can be similar to your math class. After failing many times, students keep working with their teacher, or with more problems, until they have skills mastered. They aren’t punished because if they were, then they would never learn where they went wrong on the test. Restorative practices are similar. They help to master a skill and learn from mistakes. Whereas in a suspension, “you are not going to get skills from sitting in a room by yourself.” She said that exclusionary disciplines, such as detention or suspensions, “don’t change behavior.” She explained that when students are working restoratively, it takes time to learn from their mistakes, to figure out what went wrong and how they can make it right when a punitive response only lasts about a week. Furthermore, she said, “that there always has to be accountability. You’re not getting away with anything, but responses to inappropriate behavior don’t have to just be punishment.”

Social Justice Club (Aurora Smith)

Clinton Superintendent Maryann O’Donnell explained that although academics are very important, it’s important to build strong relationships within the community and school districts. When talking about restorative practices, she said that it’s all about trust and communication to build relationships. Clinton Public Schools are implementing these programs more, starting at the elementary level. They are working on talking through the issues with the teachers instead of throwing out punishments. Similarly, at the middle school level, Jared Eliot’s principal, Kristin LaLima, is trained in restorative practices and as she takes on the new role of becoming principal, she works to implement these into

Jillian Demaio’s project for Husky Leadership (Rachel Spaziano)

her curriculum when a problem arises. Morgan also added this. Mrs. O’Donnell explained that sometimes consequences are necessary, but adding restorative practices for students “creates opportunities on how to express themselves and how to share ideas.”

The Morgan School wants to create positive solutions. Some examples she provided are various opportunities offered at Morgan, such as the social justice club, husky leadership, and advisory lessons about the importance of building relationships.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Spaziano, Writer/Reporter
Hi, I’m Rachel Spaziano, and I’m a junior in the Class of 2025! This is my second semester of Journalism, and I am stoked to be back in the PawPrint writing and producing content. I hope to write about new staff members, cover sports events, and create videos exploring Morgan's ideas. I am involved in the Interact Club and participate on two teams here at Morgan, the girls' soccer team and tennis team. I am looking forward to continuing to explore journalism and considering it as a pathway for college and as a career.

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