Monday, November 30, 2015

NEW Weekly Question!

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." Does restorative justice have a place in special education: re bullying, student discipline, remedies. etc? What do you think?


  1. Restorative justice could serve as a deterrent for the schools to deny services, allowing timelines to be consumed prior to taking action, or scapegoating the parents. That being said it would need to be done with extreme care to not become a bigger problem than it could solve!

  2. I think it may be problematic. It makes assumptions about guilt, intent and does not account for the disability governing some actions. My own experience was to see it put forward in a circumstance as a 'buzz word' to try and indicate relevance by the speaker - not to help the child. It was an entirely inappropriate statement that ended up making the child seem guilty or criminal in a way that they were not, and had the effect of implying the child should drag around the issue for some time yet to come until they could 'restore' the issue, which was not being asked for nor was it appropriate. It seems to be a focus in and of itself as a way to get grants, not as a tool that may work in some cases. With particular respect to special education, it seems very inappropriate since it is looking to 'restore' a level that may or may not be appropriate, in a manner that may or may not be appropriate, with a child who may or may not be able to garner anything from the process. In fact, the actual restorative act may or may not be appropriate for a given special education student.

  3. The previous posters make some very interesting points and raise appropriate cautions, in my opinion. I do think it depends on the student, however, and I wouldn't dismiss restorative justice as a poor fit with all students with disabilities, and I don't think it's fair to paint it as a mere tool for getting grants. Restorative justice has been used with success in places like Oakland CA and is reducing rates of chronic absenteeism and increasing retention rates among groups of students who have historically very high rates of suspension and expulsion (e.g., African American boys). Because of these posts, I am inspired to learn more about how this approach has been used with students with disabilities. I would love to hear success stories, too. - Carmen in Oakland, CA

  4. @jd, LauraJ & Carmen,

    Thank you for your comments