Durango schools integrating restorative justice into discipline

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Durango schools integrating restorative justice into discipline

Using behavior as a learning tool

Durango schools integrating restorative justice into discipline

Committee will present revised activities code

Playing in a sport or participating in an activity at Durango District 9-R schools is considered a privilege, and with it comes responsibilities.
On Tuesday, the Healthy Choices Committee will present its revised Athletic/Activity Handbook and Code of Conduct to the 9-R school board, including consequences and a restorative justice option.
“The biggest difference is the opportunity for reduction in the time the student has to sit out of their sport or activity if they agree to participate in an evaluation and agree to the education, restorative practices and requirements determined as appropriate based on the evaluation,” said Leanne Garcia, principal of Durango High School and co-chairman of the Healthy Choices Committee.
Restorative practices could include apologizing to team or fellow club members after an infraction, talking circles and finding ways to make amends.
The revised code also says students can not participate if they are failing any class. Currently, they can have a failing grade in one class.
The revisions came about after students from two teams, the boys junior varsity soccer team and boys cross country team, were suspended for having drug and alcohol paraphernalia and partaking of the substances while on team trips last fall. The committee of 20, including school administrators, parents and community partners, has met every other week since early November to work on the code.

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice entails understanding the impact of one’s behavior on others, apologizing when possible and finding ways to make amends. It is done without shaming or blaming the offender, and requires that victims feel safe and heard.
There’s a vocabulary to restorative judgement, said Cito Nuhn, principal at Miller Middle School.
“Instead of ‘Why did you do this?’” Nuhn said, “we ask ‘What are you feeling?’ ‘What happened?’ ‘What led to this?’ There’s a process of dialogue that involves deep listening and agreed upon outcomes that are intended to strengthen relationships.”
Two factors must be in place for restorative justice to work between victim and offender, said mediation specialist Tricia Winslow, who works with La Plata Youth Services in supporting programs in area schools.
“You have to make sure the offender is truly remorseful,” she said. “And you have to make sure the victim has dealt with the anger and frustration, so they can listen with an open mind. The moderator must make sure no one gets bullied.”

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