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.
Restorative Justice 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. Both the theory and practice of restorative justice emphasize the importance of:
(1) identifying the harm, (2) involving all stakeholders to their desired comfort level, and (3) true accountability—taking steps to repair the harm and address its causes to the degree possible.
Restorative justice in its basic form is incredibly intuitive and a common sense concept for most people. Restorative justice presents opportunities to those impacted by a event to collectively define the impact and determine steps to make things as right as possible for everyone involved—the person(s) harmed, the person(s) who harmed others, and the broader community that was affected both directly as well as indirectly. Because of the ways our current systems operate—often contrary to restorative principles—it is common for implementation of restorative practices to be misunderstood and face resistance.
In his seminal work, Changing Lenses, Howard Zehr examined the way in which we typically respond to crime and wrongdoing. Zehr contrasts questions the criminal justice system asks with restorative questions. The questions the current systems try to address are:
(1) What rules or laws were broken? (2) Who broke them? (3) What do they deserve?
Whereas, restorative justice asks:
(1) Who has been hurt? (2) What are their needs? (3) Who has the obligation to address the needs and put right the harm?
The restorative questions cannot be adequately answered without the involvement of those who have been most affected. Involving those affected is a cornerstone of restorative justice. The foundation of restorative justice rests on common values: respect, inclusion, responsibility, empathy, honesty, openness, and accountability.
Comprehensive Report: Restorative Justice in Oakland schools: Implementation and Impacts
"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
Lakeview Elementary • 746 Grand Avenue • Oakland, CA • 94610
Nondiscrimination Policy: OUSD prohibits unlawful discrimination against any protected group as identified under Education Code 200 and 220 and Government Code 11135, and Title IX, including actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, age, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics in any District program or activity that received or benefits from state financial assistance, including athletic programs. Complaint forms are available at school sites and at the Office of the Ombudsperson, located at 1000 Broadway, Suite 680, Oakland, California 94607. For further information, call 510-879-4281. BOARD POLICY 0410, 51