Discipline and Restorative Justice in Schools

This working group brings together faculty and students from U.C. Berkeley and a local high school to research the impact of school disciplinary practices on racial/ethnic minority students.   We explore whether alternative forms of discipline, founded on restorative justice principles, are a viable and healthy alternative to traditional paradigms.  In the Fall of 2009, 13 students from a local high school participated in a seminar designed and facilitated by members of the working group.  Students in the seminar became familiar with the history of discipline within education at the same time they are trained in qualitative methods and documentary film production.  During the Spring of 2010, the group began video documenting student encounters with the school's disciplinary apparatus, one that includes a restorative justice oriented youth court class.  The students have identified movements of people, resources and power on the campus as a central concern as such flows seem to privilege certain communities while disadvantaging others with respect to educational opportunities and disciplinary practices.  With the continued support of the Center for Race and Gender, faculty and students will analyze this data during the 2010-2011 academic year and produce a written report that discusses any observed differences in outcomes between traditional disciplinary practices and those rooted in restorative justice principles.  In addition, the students will produce a documentary that explores the ways in which racial/ethnic minority students understand, experience and navigate school discipline.