As one who has trained in restorative justice, I find that Fresno Unified School District’s restorative justice misses a vital piece of the program: restitution!
With criminal offenders, the incentive to change, to restore right relationships, arises from either benefiting the offended by work or payment (restitution) or facing penalty from the justice system.
Having mentored and conversed with several teachers in various school districts, I learned that there is often no restitution to the teacher and class or penalty such as suspension or expulsion required for misbehavior. So the disruptive student has no incentive to change behavior.
Recently I heard about four fights in one day on a high school campus. It costs the student nothing for creating chaos, disrespecting teachers and disrupting learning for all.
There are a lot of unhappy teachers dealing with the classroom chaos of restorative justice in FUSD and other districts. If true restitution cannot be implemented, let’s at least put the eons-proven but un-politically correct concept of penalty back into the student discipline system.
Roger Minassian, Fresno