Restoring Community

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 2.15.09 PMIn a sprawling school district in northeast Ontario, Canada, with six secondary and 18 primary schools, restorative practices have not only reduced suspensions, but also helped change student behavior, according to an article by Brenden Harris in KenoraOnline. Restorative practices have been rolled out district wide, and were introduced with the support of Bruce Schenk, director of IIRP Canada.

The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board is pleased with the results of their safe and supportive schools initiatives. Safe and supportive schools coordinator Al Wray says they've seen a continued drop in the number of suspensions over the last decade.

"From 2003, we had over 2,000 suspensions within our board with 907 students suspended. Restorative practices came around in 2006, we can see where the trend is going. We though we were going to peak around 350 to 400 suspensions within our board but we dropped to 274 last year," he said.

Wray attributes the drop to a change in the way the schools deal with incidents. High suspensions were reported during years that used a zero tolerance policy for handling incidents within the school. Wray says now that the focus is on restorative practices to change the behaviour of the students, less students are being suspended.

"We can get at the cause of the what was going on in the students mind and their decision making process. That's what changes their behaviour, suspending them doesn't," he said.

The original article, "Suspension improvement continues," can be found here.

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