The International Institute for Restorative Practices has been invited to present plenaries and breakout sessions at a series of summits across New York State to share how restorative practices can be used in schools to help end the school-to-prison pipeline and transform disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact minority youth.
The New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, chaired by Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, has been working on issues regarding exclusionary school discipline and its connection to the justice system for the last few years. With funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the commission is currently hosting a series of regional summits from October, 2013 through April 2014.
John Bailie, IIRP assistant professor and director of continuing education, presented a plenary along with Liz Sullivan-Yuknis, director of the Human Right to Education Program of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) at the "Capital Region Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships: Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court" outside Albany, New York, on November 6.
The Summit brought together leaders from schools, the justice system, youth serving organizations and state political leaders – the key players needed to make system-wide reform. Outsider experts presented during the day to help explain some of the big pieces of the puzzle that can help the reform efforts.
Bailie said he spoke about restorative practices in general as well as the work IIRP has done with schools specifically. Sullivan-Yuknis, who has been active with the Dignity in Schools Campaign, discussed a Model School Code, "a set of recommended policies to schools, districts and legislators to help end school pushout and protect the human rights to education, dignity, participation and freedom from discrimination."
Bailie said, "It was great to hear many of the speakers reference restorative practices throughout the day." Bailie said that in a session titled "School Climate Reform and Promoting the Whole School-Community Improvement Efforts," speaker Richard Cardillo, director of education for the National School Climate Center, talked about four things his organization's research surveys show the most effective programs have in common:
- Learning and service to others is combined.
- Student are empowered, engaged and actually involved in decision making.
- Restorative discipline is used and made explicit.
- All students feel included, and special needs students are integrated into the regular classroom.
Bailie noted that restorative practices helps in all these areas.
IIRP consultant and trainer Steve Korr also presented at the first regional summit held October 18 in New York City. Forthcoming summits will be held in Long Island, Westchester, Syracuse and Buffalo.