In this special report, EdSource examines restorative justice in California schools as an alternative to traditional school discipline. Many see the practice, which prioritizes mediation and relationship building over punishment, as a way to improve school environments and reduce discipline disparities that adversely affect students of color. Others worry that some districts are implementing it without adequate resources, which could lead to more chaotic classrooms.
While awareness of restorative justice is high among school officials statewide, budgets for programs remain tiny in most school districts.
Augustus F. Hawkins High, which is situated at the crossroads of multiple gang territories, almost died at its birth. A commitment to restorative justice helped save it.
Many tout the practice as a groundbreaking alternative to zero-tolerance policies and a way to alleviate discipline disparities, while some say it's being oversold as a quick fix.