Restorative practices are processes that proactively build healthy relationships and a sense of community to prevent and address conflict and wrongdoing.
They reduce and prevent harmful behavior.
Repair harm and restore positive relationships
How does the school partner with community stakeholders to build relationships, prevent conflict, and promote peaceful resolutions to conflict? How do youth and adults address conflict within the school and community? Is it consistent?
Restorative practices are increasingly being applied in individual schools and school districts to address youth behavior, rule violations, and to improve school climate and culture. They are also promoted by the Hancock County District Attorney and the Maine Department of Corrections in juvenile and adult cases.
Restorative justice focuses on righting a wrong
committed and repairing harm done. The goal is to place
value on relationships and focus on repairing relationships that have been injured. The victim and the wrongdoer
have the opportunity to share with one another how they
were harmed, as victims, or how they will work to resolve
the harm caused, as wrongdoers.
In many places, schools cater to the distinct needs of students and families. As part of that role, schools often are a bridge for caretakers and families to service providers, higher education institutions, faith-based partners, business, health, and academic partners.
The ways in which schools interact with the surrounding community can have a significant influence on whether restorative practices become not just part of the culture of schools, but also the wider community.
Community conferencing is a practice that provides
students and educators with effective ways to prevent and
respond to school conflict. Community conferencing involves the participation of each person affected by the behavior and allows all stakeholders to contribute to the
conflict resolution process.
Community service allows for individuals to restore a
harm they may have committed to the school community
by providing a meaningful service that contributes to
their individual improvement.
Peer juries allow students, who have broken a school rule,
and trained student jurors to collectively discuss why the
rule was broken, who was affected, and how the referred
student can repair the harm caused.
How does the school welcome members of the community? How does the school ensure that it is a culturally respectful and responsive place, regardless of the setting, for students and adults (e.g. classroom, cafeteria, afterschool, and athletics)?
How are parents, caretakers, and community members engaged in school activities and connected to the school? How would members of the community describe their relationship with the school? What type of outreach is done to build connections between the school and community members? Are community members asked how they would like to be engaged? Do school personnel participate in community events?
How are restorative practices modeled by youth and adults in the community? What type of input can the community provide to address conflict inside and outside of school and in the community? Are community members/organizations utilized as resources in the school’s efforts to address conflict or disagreement?
As State Representative, I would apply the questions that have been asked above in crafting legislation that would begin bringing the illustrated restorative practices and others to all Mainers, as I originally brought it to the justice community in Hancock County in 2016. Today it is manifested in justice and schools through the work of the Downeast Restorative Justice, an extension of the original Hancock County Community Reparations Board. It has well been worth the investment support that the County Commissioners have given since 2018.
It is time to build a statewide network, funded through the Health and Human Services department, that would provide training and self-satisfying employment to citizens in their own communities, as they realize the morale boost in their families and neighborhoods, and reduced cost of law enforcement. The first bill would fund between $150 and $200 Thousand Dollars for a year’s worth of personnel and infrastructure, which can be rented in existing community buildings. I would seek to add funding for community efforts such as the Hancock County crisis management policy committee that I was privileged to place on the Commissioners Agenda today.