Friday, November 20, 2015

Lessons From the CADRE Conference - Part III Restorative Justice #RJ

There were many excellent concurrent sessions at the amazing CADRE Symposium in Eugene, Oregon in October. In fact it was difficult to choose a session to attend because you would be missing other great sessions.

My favorite concurrent session, after my own, was a panel on the application of restorative justice to special education dispute resolution organized by my friend, John Inglish of the Oregon Department of Education. The panel did a great job. Although I will try to briefly summarize some key points here, but to get a better flavor for restorative justice and its application to special education dispute resolution, I strongly encourage to view the CADRE webinar video below on this topic.

According to Howard Zehr, "Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in the specific offense, and to collectively identify and address harms, needs,  and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible."

Restorative justice replaces questions such as "what rules or laws have been broken" with "who has been hurt;"  "who broke the rules," and "what do they deserve" with "who has been hurt," "what do they need," and "who has the obligation to address the needs and put right the harm." The work of restorative justice is generally is done in a circle- involving the "offender," the "victim" and others who have an interest. The process has worked well in Native American cultures, as well as in our own Juvenile Justice system.

The panel explained the process and included a student and parent who used a restorative justice circle successfully and have now become advocates for the system. The panelists suggested that the use of restorative justice might have application in cases of bullying and of discipline of students with disabilities- two topics we all deal with daily.

In my next post, we will examine the panel's suggestion of the possible application to special education dispute resolution. This suggestion really has me excited!

You can view the session materials here. A video used by the presenters is available here. You can view the CADRE  webinar video  that preceded this session but covers some of the topics here.  You can read a transcript of the webinar here. The power-point accompanying the webinar is available here.

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