Restorative Practices in Queensbury Schools
Repairing the harm is the aim of restorative practices in Queensbury Union Free School District.
Through restorative practices, students who cause harm learn how their behaviors affect others, come to understand their responsibilities to repair the harm and are given opportunities to make amends. Those who have been harmed are an important, voluntary part of the process and have the opportunity to share how the harm affected them. It is an instructional method of discipline focused on learning, making things right and creating a positive school environment.
Restorative practices shift the traditional thinking when it comes to discipline from a focus on:
- "Violation of school rules"
to "violation of people and relationships."
- "Establishing guilt"
to "identifying needs and obligations."
to "understanding the impact and repairing the harm."
- "Justice directed at the offender, while the victim is ignored"
to "offender, victim and school all have direct roles in the justice process."
A student who causes harm is held accountable and faces appropriate consequences, but the focus of restorative practices is on resolving conflicts in a way that builds healthy relationships among peers.
In April 2017, the New York State School Boards Association released a white paper, Rethinking School Discipline (PDF), that said the practice provides "an opportunity to gain social-emotional learning skills such as empathy and an awareness of others' perspectives." NYSSBA noted several reasons for the use of restorative practices in schools, including the following:
- It allays many of the negative effects associated with more traditional disciplinary methods.
- Students actively participate in their own disciplinary process, so they view it as more just.
- Restorative circles (pictured above) can allow a class or small group to discuss how a harm affected all members and how to fix the harm. Circles also can be used in the classroom as an "everyday strategy to help students reflect on an array of issues and build a stronger classroom community."
Queensbury implemented restorative practices in its schools with support and training from the Skidmore College Project on Restorative Justice and other nationally renowned trainers.
To discuss restorative practices in your child's school, contact your child's assistant principal.
- "Violation of school rules"
Queensbury High School
Assistant Principal Daniel Hamm
Queensbury Middle School
Assistant Principal Don Brandt
W.H.B. Intermediate School
Assistant Principal Gwynne Cosh
Queensbury Elementary School
Assistant Principal Maggie Kelly
When someone has been harmed, ask yourself:
- What did you think when you realized what had happened?
- What impact has this incident had on you and others?
- What has been the hardest thing for you?
- What do you think needs to happen to make things right?
Restorative Justice for K-12 Schools (Skidmore College)
Rethinking School Discipline (PDF, NYSSBA)
K-12 Restorative Practices in New York State Capital Region (Skidmore College, featuring Queensbury schools)
A Tale of Two Schools: Zero Tolerance vs. Restorative Practices (JPG, National Opportunity to Learn)