"Restorative Justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible" - Howard Zehr, 1990
"I have been at this school for 11 years, and this is the best start of the school year I have seen"- Staff person at OUSD high school in first year of implementing RJ
Articles featuring the OUSD RJ program
This video shows students at MetWest High School facilitating a community building circle in their advisory
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a set of principles and practices employed in the Oakland Unified School District to build community and respond to student misconduct, with the goals of repairing harm and restoring relationships between those impacted. The RJ program in OUSD pilots a three-tiered model of prevention/ intervention/ supported reentry in response to conflict/harm. The RJ program works to lower our rate of suspension and expulsion and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the prison pipeline.
Info on whole school restorative justice - Spanish
Scope of the Problem:
34% of the OUSD student population is African American, yet they receive...
- 67% of the referrals for out of school suspension
- 50% of the referrals for expulsion
- 40% of OUSD African American students do not graduate from high school
- Since 2005, 66% of OUSD students who dropped out have had contact with the criminal justice system
Highlights from previous school years include:
- Elimination of racilally disproportionate referrals for suspension at Bunche Continuation School
- 46% decrease of out of school suspensions at Castlemont High School
- Trained over 1000 staff in restorative practices including law enforcement
- Incorporated OUSD Conflict Resolution program (peer mediation) into the RJ continuum
- Developed modules of RJ trainings at all three tiers prevention/alternatives to suspension/re-entry
- Aligned program to Response To Intervention model and Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
OUSD Restorative Justice Program 2013-14 priorities are:
- Implement a three tiered model of Whole-School Restorative Justice (prevention, repairing harm & alternatives to suspension, and supported re-entry) at a minimum of thirteen pilot sites.
- Train and coach staff at RJ sites on implementing restorative practices within the classroom.
- Develop and fund a comprehensive evaluation of RJ sites to build an evidence base for RJ in schools.
- Train and empower youth to become restorative justice fleaders to build community and prevent violence in schools.
Programs and Services
The Restorative Justice initiative includes:
- Professional development and coaching support to thirteen RJ sites throughout the District.
- Partnership with Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) to implement whole school restorative justice at Bunche Continuation School, and West Oakland Middle School.
- Integration of Positive Behavioral Supports, African American Male Achievement, and Social Emotional Learning at participating sites.
- Inclusion of parents and families to engage them in school climate and discipline issues.
- Alignment with City of Oakland Measure Y programs including community crisis response & support network, conflict mediation, street outreach, and Juvenile Justice re-entry to schools.
- Supporting and encouraging youth leadership in restorative practices through the Peer RJ program
How Our Work is Part of the Strategic Plan
In support of OUSD's vision to become a Full Service Community District, the RJ program supports a positive, equitable, and caring climate with a focus on relationships. Restorative practices utilize effective conflict resolution processes that seek to identify and repair harm and are inclusive to the whole school community. The use of restorative practices in schools has been shown to:
- Decrease referrals for suspension and expulsion
- Increase the feeling of safety at school
- Increase attendance rates and teacher retention
- Provide an equitable school-wide and classroom environment
- Provide a foundation and process for positive youth development and social emotional learning
For more information on OUSD Restorative Justice, please contact:
David Yusem, Program Manager Restorative Justice