JOHN INGLISH: Okay. I have 11:20 where I am in Oregon, which means 2:20 on the East Coast, and you can do the math on the other time zones, wherever you happen to be. But I'd like to welcome everyone to this work stop on restorative justice, building relationships in schools and the juvenile justice system.
My name is John Inglish, and I have volunteered to serve as sort of a panelist/moderator, so I'll be introducing each of the questions that we will be discussing. And then Seema, one of our co panelists has graciously volunteered to help us monitor the chat.
We don't have any PowerPoint slides. This is designed to just be an organic discussion, so I will invite everyone to, as you have comments or questions as we're discussing, type them in the chat box or get them to us somehow, and we will try to weave them into the conversation.
We have a stop time of 12:50 Pacific, which is 3:50 Eastern, so what we're going to try to do is stop at about 30 minutes after the hour and reserve the last 20 or so minutes for conversation.
Other than that, I do want to thank our interpreters our captioner and interpreters for being with us today, and appreciate everyone making the time to be here as well, and hopefully this will be a nice conversation amongst people who are interested in this particular area, whether that be from a research or a policy or a practitioner standpoint or an advocacy standpoint or all of the above.
So, without further ado, I'm going to launch us into our first question, which is designed to allow panelists to just give a brief introduction of themselves, and then I'm going to ask each panelist to describe your current work or practice, either individually or as an organization. What you're doing right now to use restorative justice practices and philosophies to disrupt the school to prison pipeline, and perhaps we can start with Darren on this one.
DARREN AITCHISON: All right. So, my name is Darren Aitchison. We're a company that works worldwide and domestically with schools and restorative practices. So what was that question, John?
JOHN INGLISH: Just talk a little bit about any specifics around what you're doing in this space. Any initiatives or stories that you'd like to share?
DARREN AITCHISON: We're training schools and we're training teachers in newer methods, designed to address the entire school, not just looking at the kids and the problem, but looking at the relationship between the adults and the children using restorative practices to facilitate some culture changes in schools and to try to change some of these policies that have sent a lot of kids to prison unnecessarily too early.
And disproportionately affected minority and disability youth as well. There's a lot more to it than that, but that's it in a nutshell.
JOHN INGLISH: Okay. We can dive deeper as we come back around. How about we go to Seema next.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Sure. Thank you. Hi, everyone. Thank you, John, for moderating us today. I'm calling in from Washington, D.C. I work for the Washington, D.C. attorney general. Uniquely, our office also has jurisdiction over all prosecutions of juvenile offenses. So all young people who commit crime in the district come to our office and we have a whole division of prosecutors who handle those cases.
My boss, the attorney general, the attorney general Carl Racine came to office on the platform of juvenile justice reform, and when he came into office, our office was receiving lots and lots of youth crime cases directly from schools, and we have instituted a few different ways to try and disrupt the school to prison pipeline, one of which is aggressively diverting low level offenses, which is highly effective.
The other one is to start our own in house restorative justice program, which handles more serious crime that our office feels obligated to handle in the justice system. Because it doesn't it's not low level enough. These are crimes where there are serious injuries, victims, et cetera.
And for those crimes, we offer the opportunity to do restorative justice, which requires that the young person be willing to take responsibility for the harm caused and sit down and have a conversation with a person who he or she hurt, their family and supporters, and his or her family and supporters, and that conversation is supposed to help really build a sense of empathy and understanding about the impact of behavior, give the young person and the victim a lot more agency and voice when it comes to harm and also repairing harm than our justice system does. And then giving them a chance together to come up with an agreement about how to make it right to the extent possible, and where that happens, our restorative justice facilitators, they're not laws, when everything is successful with that process, they'll then turn to the prosecutors who otherwise would have the case, and the case would be dismissed.
So we're really proud of a program that is trying to disrupt the traditional use of juvenile justice in our traditional adversarial system for young people in lieu of that offer of restorative process.
JOHN INGLISH: Wonderful. I already can think of some questions I'd like to ask Seema. Please feel free to type in questions as they come up. We're going to try to monitor those. And at the end of each question, each prompt, we'll review the chat box to see if there are any questions we should address before we move to the next question. Thank you, Seema, seems like you're doing fantastic work. How about we go to Kevin next.
KEVIN GILBERT: Thank you. I want to thank you for moderating this panel for us, and great to see everyone here. My name is Dr. Kevin Gilbert. I am currently serving as the director of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We have over 8,000 students, over 8,000 staff. We have 77 schools, including in that is three educational centers.
And my role with my district is, I'm overseeing the implementation of whole school restorative justice throughout the school system. We're using it as a transformational tool, and through that, we're trying to help build those healthy relationships that are necessary between young people and staff in our schools. We're trying to help our staffs develop a more solid pedagogical approach to our young people that values their social emotional learning and their culture.
And then we also are trying to create spaces where we have courageous conversations, primarily about race and racism, using data to kind of drive those discussions.
And so I'm looking forward to just having a conversation on how all that interconnects with dismantling the school to prison pipeline and really helping build schools where our young people feel like they belong and that their dignity is honored.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Thank you for that. I'm John Inglish. We are an interdisciplinary master's degree program. We're housed in the University of Oregon School of Law, but we are a free standing interdisciplinary program, which means we get students from all kinds of disciplines.
One of the fun things about my job is I get to work on these kinds of issues and weave them into graduate education. But just briefly, I first came into this school to prison pipeline issue as an attorney working in the disability arena, working for a protection advocacy agency as an education team leader. And so, really had a chance to try to tackle it from an advocacy side.
I also worked at a state education agency, to trying to implement policies and practices from more of a 30,000 foot level here in Oregon.
And then recently, last several years in my role as program director, I've also had the good fortune to be a co investigator on a couple of federally funded research grants. The first one is a project called PRIDE, positive and restorative investment for discipline in education. And that project was a multi year project where we really worked to integrate restorative justice philosophies and practices into existing behavior management frameworks in school systems.
In this case, specifically high school. So, many of you on the call are probably familiar with positive behavior interventions and supports. It's a common school behavior management framework, and we thought, what an opportunity to try to bolster and supplement existing frameworks and make them even stronger as opposed to try to replacing something. So that was really the focus of that project. And we were able to work in some high school settings and get some early initial successes and, you know, also learn some lessons around implementation.
Briefly, the most recent project on which I'm currently serving as a co investigator is called BASICS, behavioral accountability for successful instructional climate. You know, you always have to come up with a fancy acronym for every grant you get. So there's the acronym spelled out.
But essentially, BASICS is three part, the restorative justice training piece, it's building a social emotional learning curriculum, a ten module curriculum for teachers in middle schools in this particular case. And then we have developed an app. The app is called SpeakOut, advocator SpeakOut. And the app is designed to enhance student voice. So bringing more data into the picture, triangulating data, you know, a lot of the data that we tend to accumulate in schools is data collected by administrators and staff.
But we wanted students to have an app by which they could report how things are going, positive or negative. This thing happened in the hallway. Someone said a kind word. Or I feel bullied or harassed or I feel scared or whatever the case may be, we're trying to play with that idea and see if we can further enhance student voice in the process.
So that's just a little bit about me and my background and the kinds of things that I'm working on, and I look forward to talking a little bit more about that, if anyone should have questions around that.
I'll stop there. Do we have in the chat box yet? Feel free, folks. We are more than happy to kind of stop and address them. We thought it would be best to have this conversation by addressing questions as they come out, versus waiting until the very end. So please don't be shy about that.
Let me move to the second question, the second prompt, and maybe this time we can start with Seema. What are two or three lessons that you have learned as you think now about your initiatives and your particular organization. Two or three lessons that you've learned as you have engaged in this work?
SEEMA GAJWANI: Thank you. I think this is a great question. Because it really had me think and take a step back.
So, one thing I thought that was something that I've definitely learned over time having helped facilitate or facilitate restorative justice conferences between young people who have caused harm and others who they've harmed is one of the things is that young people know what they need to be safe, which I think I wasn't quite so convinced of beforehand. But, you know, a lot of our cases involve conflict, sometimes serious conflict and violence between young people between each other. Some offenses are between strangers, but many of them involve a juvenile who's caused harm to another young person.
And in those situations, there's oftentimes a couple of things at play. Oftentimes, there's history between them and they know each other. And the other thing that's often at play is that there is going to be a future together. These are kids who sometimes go to the same school. They come from the same communities. They may see each other every day or maybe they might see each other on public transportation or in the community.
And those things, once there's been conflict, and especially once there's been an arrest made and somebody has potentially been subject to prosecution, now there's like an acute need for safety. And our justice system really doesn't provide that, because you can have two people who have engaged in some conflict, maybe at school or maybe outside of the school. And one of those two people can be fully prosecuted in our juvenile justice system. You know, prosecuted, put on probation, sentenced, all of that.
And at the end of that, they will go back to their community and the underlying issue that brought them there in the first place will not have been resolved.
With restorative justice, the beauty one of the great things about it is that it creates an opportunity to have, like this, they can have organic long conversations about where the relationship came from. You know, how do you know each other in the past. What are things that have happened in the past that may have led to this.
And then also interestingly, like, how are we going to move forward? Because within the restorative justice dialogue, in the conferencing that we do, there are three core questions, and we do other stuff in the dialogue itself, but the three core questions are, what happened, how were you affected, and what needs to happen to make things right?
And I say that young people know what they need to be safe, because in that agreement phase, that last one, what do you need to make this not happen again, to make this right.
We sometimes see, like, really cool agreements. Actually, we often see between kids who know each other, we see agreements that are like, when you talk to your friends about what happened, these are the words we're going to use. Or, going forward, if I see you, we're going to agree to maybe turn and walk away, or be friendly, or not talk, or, you know, be civil.
And then also importantly, like, when I'm on social media, this is how I'm going to speak about this incident. This is how I'm going to speak about you. If somebody raises your name, these are the words we're going to use. And I think it just is an example of how, like, clear minded people can be of all ages, but including young people about what they need to be able to walk in the world in a way that they feel safe, and also get what they need in terms of healing.
So that's been a really cool thing that we've seen. And the second thing I'll just say is that victims of all ages and all demographics are far more likely to participant in restorative justice than I ever thought that there would be. I think it's in part because our traditional justice system offers victims of crime very, very little.
But we see many victims who are just generous and don't want a young person to have their life ruined by a prosecution and therefore opt to do restorative justice, but we see many victims of crime who are angry and hurt and scared and maybe even traumatized who are willing to do restorative justice or are interested in doing restorative justice because they have questions that they want answered and they want a chance to talk to the person who hurt them and they want a chance to gauge for themselves if the person is authentic in their apology, and they want a say in what that person needs to do.
And so I think I underestimated the power of that and I underestimated the number of victims of even serious crime who would be willing to do restorative justice. So those have been two really cool things to learn in the time that I've been doing this work.
JOHN INGLISH: Wonderful. Thank you, Seema. And I see a question for Seema. I think we'll at the end of this round, we'll circle back to this. Nita, we see you and we're going to respond to that in just a moment.
Let's go to Kevin. Kevin, can you say a little bit about two or three lessons you've learned in doing this work?
KEVIN GILBERT: Absolutely. I think the first big lesson I learned is that there's a wide range of understanding of what restorative justice is, there's a wide range of people out there doing trainings on restorative justice. And what that has meant is that, as we try to come to a common understanding of what restorative justice is and what it means, it just makes the makes it more complex than trying to help people realize what it is we're actually trying to do.
And so, one of the things is that we believe that restorative justice I say we in our school system, we believe that restorative justice is an indigenous practice that focuses on relationship building. That's the first thing. And so building that focus on what it means to build those quality healthy relationships is crucial as a proactive approach.
Unfortunately, in many of our school systems, restorative justice practices are being used as an alternative to simply discipline practices, and what that actually means is there's been some disconnect in the effectiveness of them being able to do that because they have not grounded this work in this grounding and that philosophy of restorative justice.
The next lesson I think I really learned is that leadership matters. We have a superintendent who supports the work. Our principals who are doing this work effectively in their school are champions of the work. And in order for you to build a proactive strategy around the utilization of restorative justice, leadership matters and leadership counts. And so how you invest in your leaders, the people who are going to lead the work is very important, and having a leader at the top at the district level should actually help promote the funding and things that's necessary to move the work.
And then I'll just end with saying that the third lesson I think that's important is understanding that this is a commitment for a long time. So we're in the implementation of this for not just a one or two year if you're going to commit to changing culture, transforming the way we do things through restorative justice, you need to look at this as a five year commitment and beyond in terms of actually getting the work done and doing it effectively.
And so those three lessons are things that really have lifted themselves up while I was doing this work, and I think there's lessons for those really trying to make that connection with our schools and how we help build this work in a manner that's going to be supportive of our young people, but build those proactive cultures necessary that I think avoid the school to prison pipeline is essential.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Thank you for that, Kevin. And finally, we'll go to Darren and then we'll circle back around to Nita's question. Darren, take it away.
DARREN AITCHISON: Well, a couple things. I've learned over the past couple months, or the past couple years that working with other countries, they don't have a school to prison pipeline like we do. So I think we can learn a lot from what other countries, especially in Europe is handling drug problems as a mental health problem instead of a strictly legal problem.
And also, we're doing a lot of great work in the school to prison pipeline, but it will end where it began, which is the Senate and the Congress, with legislation. So we can buy time for that. But the long term solution is a broader approach, like Kevin was saying, at all different levels. A multi level commitment. Peek working with schools, people working with the criminal justice system and people at the state and federal legislation.
We need a comprehensive approach. But until we address that, then we're not going to put a big dent in the school to prison pipeline. We've saved a lot of kids the last ten years, but in order to save all of them, we have to cut the head of the snake, so to speak.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Cut the head of the snake off. Seema, this one's coming to you. Let me just read it real quick.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Can I interrupt you? John, we didn't get to hear from you about lessons that you learned from your work.
JOHN INGLISH: Sorry. Yeah, I'm so busy
SEEMA GAJWANI: I'm curious.
JOHN INGLISH: Let me give you my two or three quick ones, and then we'll come to Nita's question. And then I see another one as well.
Marathon, not a sprint, right? That's cliche, but I'm echoing what my panelists have said. Long view, it is truly a marathon, not a sprint. Danger of getting burned out with the shiny new thing and not recognizing it as hey, this is the long game. We're investing in more than a practice here. This is a paradigm shift.
Two, the importance of intersectionality, right? Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability. When we devise data collection systems, we need to be really intentional and cognizant about looking at that intersectionality, and we know from the data, examining those data, that when you combine something like race and disability, you see enhanced risk factors, right?
So, thinking about the most vulnerable student subgroup populations and really making sure we are disaggregating those data. So that would be number two.
My final thing would be, it's all about relationships. So, you know, education. I worked in education a lot of years before going into law and policy. And education is a relationship game. So whether you're working in education or whether you're working in juvenile justice system, just putting a premium on relationships, and really making relationship building at the forefront of everything we do.
Those would be my three. Okay. Now, I will let Seema
DARREN AITCHISON: Can I add one more thing real quick? I just want to focus on Kevin said something about this that's really important. But going back to indigenous Peoples. Bringing two people together to solve their problems, that's what people did up until the middle ages. The state of the government was going to handle justice and we took the victim out of the equation. We've been off track ever since.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, I think that's very much on point.
Okay. Seema, we have a question about whether it makes sense to have well, are there drawbacks to housing an RJ program within a law enforcement agency even when the actual process is run by non lawyer facilitators? What concerns or factors have you addressed in that realm as the program has grown?
SEEMA GAJWANI: Thank you. That's a great question. I get asked that all the time, and I usually start by saying that having a restorative justice program in a prosecutor's office is highly controversial, and folks in the restorative justice field rightly have very grave concerns about that.
So, thank you for that question.
I'm not the most popular person in a lot of restorative justice circles, having put a program not only in the justice system, but in the prosecutor's office. And there's valid reasons why that is problematic, and Dr. Gilbert talked about the fact that this is an indigenous practice. Darren, you just mentioned that, too. And that's right.
And so the roots of restorative justice come from native communities in West Africa and Native American communities and Māori cultures.
So the idea of it in its purest form should be held by community, administered by community, and this is definitely a perversion of that. And so there are things that we have to be vigilant about. And I think people's concerns revolve mostly around the idea of having the justice system kind of co opt restorative justice and just add it to an existing kind of brutal and racist system and process. Very, very valid.
My focus in starting this program, a couple of focuses in starting this program at our office, and one was to actually reduce mass incarceration, and with that focus, one of the things that we have had to be really vigilant about is to not allow prosecutors to just add restorative justice on to a traditional prosecution.
So, you know, we and this is hard to maintain and to be vigilant about. But we have and this I can do only because I've got enormous political capital that my office and my bosses have put into this, but we require prosecutors when a young person completes the restorative justice process to dismiss the case, even very, very serious cases.
So we have young people involved in armed carjackings, armed robberies, shootings, gun crimes who go through a whole process of restorative justice and what we require in those kind of cases is also community based cognitive behavioral therapy, and when they complete it, the case is dismissed, which wouldn't happen in a traditional prosecutor's office.
The other thing we're very vigilant about to address the concerns about having a RJ program in a prosecutor's office is net widening. So we actually don't allow prosecutors to give us low level cases because we know that in those kind of cases, those should be dismissed or sent outside of the system entirely to diversion.
And so we require that. And now currently, our program only takes serious violent offenses after the decision has been made to prosecute them.
And, you know, on the other side, one of the great things about having a program within a prosecutor's office, again, one of the reasons that I started this here was because we have the ability to change the culture of prosecutors. And that's what we're really aiming to do is change the way they look at crime and conflict and how it should be addressed, and the harm that can come from addressing it through traditional prosecution, and the value that can come from addressing it with restorative justice, and one of the ways we see this is now our prosecutors have different types of conversations with victims.
You know, before, it was prosecution or no prosecution. That was basically all they had. And now the questions are, what does justice look like for you? What do you need to feel safe? What do you need to, you know, to be able to heal?
And that's been a really positive impact. And the last thing I'll say is the reason that it's really valuable to have this program within our office is that we have the ability to take whatever cases we want. Because there are other programs that exist in the community and prosecutors’ offices send cases to them, but then they are dependent on the prosecutor's office to make the decision about what cases they send, and for the most part, they get low level offenses.
And they get the offenses that the prosecutors think are worthy of restorative justice. The young people who they see as somehow sympathetic, victims that they see as more sympathetic, or as in our program, we take the cases we want. So when we say we want to take serious violent crime regardless of a young person's past criminal history, that's something the prosecutors don't like, and they don't really have a choice in that.
And I think that in the future, it would be great if these kind of things happened outside in the community, but in the political environment that we live in right now, that wasn't going to be possible. And in order to show that it is possible to use restorative justice for real crime in a real city without the discretion of the prosecutor, it was important that we had the power from within the office itself to take what cases we want, and that meant we had to put the program in the office.
Sorry. That was a little long.
JOHN INGLISH: No.
DARREN AITCHISON: I want to say something about that a second. It's really powerful that they have to enforce it. Because when I give them the recommendations, it ends there. So the fact that they're within the organization and they can enforce that is tremendously powerful. It makes all the difference in the world.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah.
DARREN AITCHISON: I understand people's concerns, but I disagree that it doesn't belong there.
JOHN INGLISH: Thank you for that. Seema, you've been talking, so I'm going to give your voice a rest. I'm going to just read this question out and let anyone on the panel answer it from Shalishah. Two questions.
The first is, how do we identify when a student's behavior is the result of a disability? Especially where you have a situation where parents may not, for whatever reason, have power to advocate.
And then two, once a child has come into contact with the justice system, how do we identify the disability? I think that's a really those are both really interesting questions. Anyone want to tackle those?
DARREN AITCHISON: Sure. I'm in disability studies, so we talk about this quite a bit. Disabilities are largely social constructs. So we make decisions about who's disabled and who's not. We have some pretty inclusive research. It's not totally finished yet, but the use of restorative practice will lower the amount of kids who are identified as emotional behavioral disorder in a school setting. It's not quite complete yet, but we're finishing it up.
But it's really in the field of mental health, it's very difficult to ascertain who is disabled and who's not, but we make decisions based on that. We have the process. It's imperfect. But it's very complex. It's a very complex thing.
We have to also be very careful about the labels we give kids, because it can be a self fulfilling prophecy. I've seen it over and over and over. I'm not sure if I answered that question. They want to know how to identify a child with a disability?
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah.
KEVIN GILBERT: I was actually going to jump in here just to say I'm sorry. Just to add to a little bit of that, too. So this is one of the reasons that question is actually a good question for me to talk about in the school setting, why it's important that when we're implementing restorative justice, when we're moving from an alternative to discipline practices, where that focus is on behavior, right? So when we're actually talking about implementing RJ, we're looking at the humanistic aspect of our young people. All behaviors are an expression of need, right? And so by focusing in on humanity of the young person, we don't focus so much in on the behavior issue.
So when we talk about working with our students, our Department of Special Education, for example, the reason why our restorative work works so well with them is that the emphasis is not put on the disability that they may have, but it's more put on how do we help connect them and make them feel belong how they feel like they belong, and not other in this particular system.
Coming from a very proactive approach, that kind of helps get to the reason why in many cases, in the implementation and restorative justice is done well, that you see the minimization of I don't even know if that's a word, it sounded good of the behaviors that we see in our students and we can actually begin on focusing on helping to build up those social emotional skills, as well as some of the academic progress.
And so we don't focus in on the behavior as we do on the actual building up of the young person and helping them feel like they belong.
DARREN AITCHISON: Right. That's the mistake we made in yesteryear. We focused on what was wrong with the child. We didn't address the whole situation, the family situation, the school situation, the stress that the teachers are under, and stuff like that.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. Great. Seema, did you have anything you wanted to add? You don't have to.
SEEMA GAJWANI: No, I'm happy to. I'll just really quickly say that I think part of the question was about how the juvenile justice system addresses disabilities and identifies them, and I have to say, it does a terrible, terrible job. It is not well suited to make those assessments. Lawyers are not trained in law school, neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors, nor through the bar or any of our training, with a specialty in young people, even you know, certainly not disabilities, but even adolescent brain development and normal adolescent behavior and those kind of things, which is why, you know, young people shouldn't really be in a justice system like ours.
With restorative justice, once we see the kids, they're already in the juvenile justice system. Their case is serious enough that they're being prosecuted. Sometimes there's a special education advocate who can speak to some disability that's been identified. Not that often, and certainly if there is one, we will welcome that person to be in the restorative justice dialogue and be in communication with that person as we prepare for the dialogue with a young person, just to make sure that there aren't things we need to do to accommodate whatever the needs are.
But one thing that we see across the board with almost all of the young people we deal with who are charged with crime in the district is really consistently high rates of having experienced past trauma. A lot of exposure to violence. A lot of loss of family members, loved ones, and friends to gun violence, a lot of issues of debilitating poverty, the family moving again and again because they can't pay rent, going in and out of the shelters and that kind of thing.
Families that are struggling and the young people are in the child welfare system. So, these are all the families that have some of the parents are adults having been incarcerated or currently incarcerated, these are all adverse childhood experiences that contribute to trauma in young people, and having implications for mental health and disability, and to me, it feels like that's the norm, not the exception of the kids in our justice system.
DARREN AITCHISON: Right. This is starting to become a generational problem. I see this all over the country. Grandma, auntie, mom, raising three or four grandkids because her kids are in jail. And those kids are on track for jail, too. It's becoming generational.
SEEMA GAJWANI: John, there's a question for you in the chat about the app. Would you like to read it out and answer?
JOHN INGLISH: Sure. The question is, with the bullying app, from Johnny, how do you address the high number of calls for assistance? Who is responsible for assisting the youth concerns from the bullying app? Great question.
So, we are in year one of this BASICS project, so we are ready to explore those very questions, and we don't necessarily have the answers because we haven't tried it out so much yet. By design, that's designated point person at the school that collects those data and then responds.
The students are actually given some choices to say, how would you like this to be addressed? Would you like an administrator, a teacher, et cetera. So we're going to explore that and see how well that works. Is it fraught with challenges? Yes. You know, we want we want to make sure it doesn't turn into a snitch app where students are sort of, you know, tattling on each other.
What we do want is to be a pro social behavior app, where students can say hey, I saw something good today. Hey, I saw something that concerned me and I want to feel safe, I want to feel like I'm part of an environment that will actually heed that and address that.
So I think there's some front end training with introducing it, you know, as a tool for communication with students, and we're going to, you know, hopefully learn a lot in rolling that out and seeing how well it works. So, yeah, thank you for the question. It's definitely a question that has been on our minds as we've tried to roll this out.
I see another clarification from Shalishah about sometimes children with learning and communication delays or disabilities like autism can create barriers or be the root cause of the behavior. Yeah, that's always something I think to be mindful of, is what's the nature of any disability we may be working with. As Darren said, it's a social construct, disability. Thinking about understanding etiology and what kinds of things manifest themselves
DARREN AITCHISON: Can I go back to that for just one second?
JOHN INGLISH: Uh huh.
DARREN AITCHISON: We now have some conclusive research that kids who are labeled as an emotional disorder, when we use those practices in school, they don't exhibit the characteristics of that disability anymore. When we teach them more humanely, they're not as violent. They don't qualify for that disability label. That's what I was trying to say earlier. I apologize.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Thanks for that clarification.
Okay. If there aren't any other questions around this last discussion round, I think I'll move us to a third prompt, which is, what is currently working well and what needs attention? So, kind of a plus delta. Something that's working really well in this arena and something that we need to really pay attention to. Let's see if we can start with Darren for this one.
DARREN AITCHISON: We have some procedures that work pretty well. Our victim mediations are about 87% of effective at solving the conflict on the first try. Doesn't mean the kids never fight again, but that issue is resolved. A lot of times, there are punitive measures that nothing gets resolved. Schools just kick kids out of school, expel them, detention, it doesn't solve the problem.
One of the deltas, the minuses that we have to get into schools. So we're working on some policies and working with people on the national level to get this into more schools. Because once we get into schools, we can show great success. But getting to the table is often a difficult factor.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Kevin, how about you? Plus/delta. Working well, needs attention.
KEVIN GILBERT: Yeah. So what we've found in our system, when you implement restorative justice from a school culture perspective, we've actually seen good results in terms of what that means. And when we focus on the adults, having the adults understand what it actually means, utilizing restorative justice, the philosophy restorative justice, we've seen immense reduction in discipline referrals. We've seen a huge reduction in suspensions.
And for example, one school, an elementary school, a principal came in and the school gave the school gave the previous leader a 19% in terms of school climate and culture. Since she has implemented restorative justice, she's in year three of her implementation. She has a 92% rating in terms of how people feel they belong in the school, and the suspension data that she had when she came in showed a huge disparity in the number of Black students who were being suspended disproportionately to other students has basically disappeared.
And so what we're seeing is that our approach to coming from a proactive manner, where we focus in on the adults in terms of building this culture and climate, has shown huge dividends, number one, on how the adults go about understanding their young people, and number two, how they approach working with one another, and then how they build these proactive cultures that get to the humanity of our young people and get to what I think we're trying the ultimate goal, is how do we work with our young people to keep from pushing them out of schools.
What needs attention. Schools need the funding to implement restorative justice in the manner and approaches that we are discussing. To do this work effectively in our schools, it takes a commitment. For example, we were fortunate enough that the local union in our school district received a $450,000 grant to implement whole school restorative justice, and believe it or not, that has really only been able to serve seven schools because they have taken that money and they have been very intentional about a professional development that they're offering, they've been very intentional about how they go about working with the staffs in those buildings, what type of restorative justice training that they actually get. The type of P circle training.
So all of these things add up, and what it has meant is that that significant investment in these schools has paid dividends. Now, you can see far district my size, we have 70 other schools to deal with. $450,000 kind of only went for seven schools. That kind of puts people at edge a little bit.
But the overarching theme of that is, in order for us to be successful, we have to invest. And so, that's one of the things I wanted to put out there, what needs attention. If you are committed to moving restorative justice, it takes more than just human resource, it takes more than just understanding the philosophy. You have to put some funding behind that approach to make sure it's successful.
JOHN INGLISH: Just cut through rhetoric. Thank you for that, Kevin. I'll go to Seema next. Plus/delta.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Thanks. I don't even know what plus/delta means. But I got your question. I just want to echo Dr. Gilbert. I mean, I think he's right that when restorative justice is implemented throughout a school, with a focus on community building first and discipline as a side benefit is when you see the most robust benefits.
And it's just a beautiful thing to see. And where it's happened in the places that I've heard of, which are very few, frankly, in schools, you not only see, you know, virtually no referrals to the juvenile justice system, but you also see significantly reduced to like single digit expulsion suspensions and those kind of things.
I think that what isn't working and needs to be changed in addition to what others have said is one of the things I've been thinking a lot about is like the wrong metrics by which to measure success. I imagine Dr. Gilbert's been able to do this because of his great power and his position of leadership, but in a lot of school districts and schools, everyone's so focused on test scores and grades, that restorative justice is not the you know, that's not going to solve that problem necessarily or immediately or quickly.
And so that's therefore not a valuable thing to offer. And, you know, what you guys have all said is really what this is about, especially you, John, is connection and belonging and feeling safe in your schools. That now is how we should be measuring the school success, but not only academics and not only through scores.
And the reason that this is on my mind is because in the juvenile justice system, we really measure success based purely on recidivism reduction. And while restorative justice offers, as Darren said, you know, reduced conflict and violence, reduced fear, reduced PTSD symptoms for victims, higher satisfaction, a sense of agency, you know, recidivism reduction does happen with restorative justice in a lot of the studies. It's a modest reduction. But it's a reduction.
But that shouldn't be the way that we're gauging if we're doing a better job of punishment and discipline in the juvenile justice system. There's some research that I've been reading recently about this term called desistance, which is how young people and adults age out of crime, and that it's a process.
It's not like one day you just stop getting involved in criminal activity, just like with addiction, you don't most people don't cold turkey just stop. There's a process of relapse and improvement over time. And what some of the research shows is that the things that are associated with the aging out process are things like developing a stronger self esteem, having a belief that you have a strong self core, you know, associating with positive peers, not negative peers, and a sense of dignity. And these are things that restorative justice can offer.
On the other hand, our current justice system, I believe that features of it are things like shame and stigma and isolation. And those are things that actually keep people in criminality, according to the research, don't help them move away from it.
So I think, frankly, we're measuring all of this all wrong.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. Great. Metrics. Revisiting the metrics. I'll just add my two cents really quickly. I think I agree with my colleagues. Funding on the you know, what needs attention. Funding definitely. We also need to memorialize these policies and practices. So when the Oakland Unified School Board says, hey, we are a restorative district, that's how we do business moving forward, that matters, right?
And so enshrining a lot of these things in board policy and even in statute that say, you know, there's a different way, there's a better way to do this, and really being exclusive I think is important.
As far as what's working well, I do think that restorative justice is a social movement and a social science that is emerging and flourishing. I think it will continue to do so. We have so many opportunities to get people onboard and to create more knowledge and more awareness through outreach.
And more studies. You know, more empirical studies. More literature, looking at efficacy and those kinds of things. So those are all positives.
Seema, do we have any new chat questions?
SEEMA GAJWANI: Yeah, there are some. There's a great question in the chat about the question about police in schools, which I know is a really it's a difficult and complicated question. It looks like Darren is interested in answering it. Would you like me to read it out, or would you like to, John?
JOHN INGLISH: Go ahead and read it.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Could the speaker share any observations about the relationship between police and schools? Who made many of these referrals and arrests of youth to the juvenile justice system? And efforts to implement restorative justice. So how do we make progress on increasing the use of restorative justice while reducing the number of youth entangled in the juvenile justice system to begin with.
And presumably, like, what role do police and schools play in having this reduction take place?
DARREN AITCHISON: Well first, I started my work as a teacher and I spent probably hundreds of times speaking with police not to intervene and let me do my job, because people called them too early. And the evidence is clear, if you have an SRO, if a police officer already in the school, there's more arrests, just because they're there, it's more convenient.
So we're developing a credentialing system right now for restorative justice, at the highest levels of restorative justice, you cannot have an SRO. You can't have an SRO and be a truly restorative system.
There are some great police officers doing great work in schools, but it's a mismatch. Some are not trained for that. Some are naturals and do a great job, but many struggle. But police have no place in schools. If there's an emergency, we can call them, they can be there in ten seconds. They're trained to do that. We don't need them at the school.
For many kids, it's a symbol of oppression anyways. So we're sending the wrong message. And there's no evidence that having an SRO makes the school any safer. In fact, it makes it worse.
KEVIN GILBERT: I just want to tag on to what Darren has said. So we talk specifically about that in our school system, and we do have SROs in our high schools here in our school system, and the first thing we tell our principals is that you need to understand that having law enforcement in schools is antithesis. When you're talking about a restorative culture, restorative justice, the whole premise behind the relationships from our indigenous culture is there is this no power dynamic. Everyone is inclusive in this circle, in this area.
And so it's not about the individual law enforcement person in the school. Kevin could be a great person. He could be an excellent person. But he's from the law enforcement community, and there is this power dynamic with our law enforcement that comes into play.
And so when we talk about restorative cultures, you bring that into the space, and that creates tension between the system. And so what we work on with our officers in terms of understanding how to operate, we focus on working with them and understanding cultural competence, understanding race and racism, understanding with bias, how using discretion and being ambiguous can lead to some implicit bias, and we work with our officers with those ends.
But we really work on the fact that, to be truly restorative, we have to eliminate that power dynamic or that aggression that comes with the stigma of what law enforcement means inside of our schools. And as Darren said, what we found until we had to kind of redo our MOU is that we were seeing an uptick in arrests because naturally, having a police officer in your school changes the dynamics when they have to respond to incidents that happen within the schools.
And so it's a very challenging task to do with law enforcement in school, in a restorative setting.
JOHN INGLISH: Thank you for that.
DARREN AITCHISON: And there's also some bills at the federal level that would take a lot of that money away from the SROs and give them to more mental health practices. There's six or seven bills in the Senate right now that are addressing that.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. It's very interesting to watch. Seema, did you want to add? Yeah, I'm good.
Yeah, the symbolism, and the historical underpinnings of that and how that might be traumatic for students.
DARREN AITCHISON: John, if I could add one thing. We're starting with some police departments across the country, there are some police departments making great strides in this. I don't want to throw any names out right now, because it's very early in the stages. Also in Europe, there are some great restorative justice police partnerships there.
There's some police departments having their own restorative justice officers in the actual units. We're seeing some exciting things over in Europe on that one.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, that's great.
Okay. I don't see any more chat questions. Looking at the time, I think we've got about 15 more minutes. So let's keep plugging ahead with questions, and then we can open it up at the end for general Q&A.
Next question is around implementation. What are the key components to effective implementation? Let me just start this one off and give you my two cents.
I do think that it's really important to pay attention to implementation. I think having passion, having a good idea, those are all really important. But one of the things we've learned in education and elsewhere over decades is that lots of great ideas can fail if they're not implemented with strategy and sustained.
And so, we do have this science of implementation that I think can guide us forward. For me, I think it's both head and heart. You know, I think that thinking through policies and procedures, strategies, what are the systems, the processes, the skills, those are all things that people need to be grappling with.
But then there's this heart centered piece around the work, which is about I think as Kevin mentioned, you know, leadership. You know, what are the identities and beliefs? What are the relationships and connections? How do we communicate information? How do we reach out to our students and to our families?
And so I think combining those two things in implementation. And I think also thinking about different drivers. So competency drivers, the things that allow us to, you know, do good coaching and good training.
Then there are the organizational drivers. You know, I think it needs to be top down and bottom up at the same time. And so how do we have the leadership development that needs to happen to make sure those things are happening. And what are the data collection structures, how are we using data. Are we using data in the right way.
And then that third part of that driver triangle is, again, the leadership. The most squishiest, harder to define, but it really is about, you know, what's in our hearts, what do we believe, can we change the paradigm, and can we take the long view.
So those are my thoughts around implementation, and I'll pass it over to how doubt we go to Seema next.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Thanks. I was actually really interested to hear about implementation from you, John, so thank you for starting us off. I think one of the things I've learned in addition to the things that you've already laid out really well is that for me, the most important thing that I need to do for successful implementation is hiring. And hiring the right people.
It's, I think yeah, it's like the most critical thing that I can do. And I get nervous every time I have to hire, because I know that my restorative justice facilitators have to be excellent, and I look for, like kind of off the charts emotional intelligence. I look for people who have a lot of humility and are good listeners. I look for people who have a lot of credibility with the population of kids in our justice system and their families.
This is one of the things that was asked earlier, about how you compensate for being in a justice system or in a law enforcement agency, and one of the things is the people we hire have to be able to build trust and rapport very quickly and effectively with people who are oftentimes really distrustful of the justice system. And so they need to be very culturally relevant to the kids in our system as well as competent.
And as part of the things that we've had to do, we've had to change our HR rules to allow for the hiring of people with criminal records, and folks who maybe don't have the educational master's degree social work kind of criteria that others might think is important for restorative justice, which I think is actually not quite important at all. I have folks who are incredible relative justice facilities who don't have those educational credentials. I think limiting hiring to people who have certain credentials is very, very narrow, and actually you lose most of the best people.
In fact, there was a finding in a really broad rigorous study of restorative justice that was almost ten years in the making, and it was across the UK and Australia, and they were primarily focused on recidivism.
They were in 12 sites across these two countries. It was multi site, randomized control, rigorous tested evaluation. And what they found is that some restorative justice facilitators were significantly more effective than others. So their recidivism reductions could be tracked to the facilitator. And that really struck me and resonated with me, because it seemed to validate my intuition that this is done well, if you have the right people.
And the idea alone and the mechanics alone are not enough to have this be successful. And where that's the case, there's a real question in my mind about how do you scale or expand something like this, where you really need to find the best people, the most effective people, and that's a challenge for me. Like I said, every time I hire, I get really, really nervous.
And we're in the process of expanding now. And I think that's something that's on my mind a lot. And that is, like, how do I expand while maintaining a really, really high standard of hiring for the right people. Again, that doesn't necessarily mean credentials.
And then like you mentioned, John, then coaching and training and our training process has, like, a very extensive apprenticeship and shadowing component, which is far more important than the, like, actual week long training and what to do.
And that too is critically important. And so, you know, the thing about implementation right now for me is how do we not get too bureaucratic? How do we maintain this high quality of individuals who do the work and the high quality of training and collaboration that helps to create a strong culture among my team of facilitators and also therefore helps me train those new folks to be highly effective.
JOHN INGLISH: Thank you, Seema.
Let's pass the baton to Kevin.
KEVIN GILBERT: Well, I mean, Seema kind of broke that thing down for us really well. So there's not much more I can add to that. As well as you, too, John. I think the only thing I would add in terms of effective implementation is really around everything that you all mentioned, and a big huge emphasis in the professional development piece of it, too, right?
So what are those powerful professional development pieces, the ancillary trainings that go along with building the restorative justice culture, like cultural competence, anti racism development, understanding data, making sure staff can really understand what those data pieces are actually telling them is going on.
You know, culturally responsive practices, pedagogy, and things like that. Those are the only other things that can help bolster or non violent communication. How we're communicating with young people. So everything that's already been shared, plus that piece around professional development I think is crucial. And so, yeah, that's all I can add to this piece. Yep.
JOHN INGLISH: Thank you for that. And finally, Darren.
DARREN AITCHISON: Seema, it's funny you raise emotional intelligence. On the research practice, it makes restorative justice work faster. It's simply complex. We want to stop using the things that we know do not work, that are making the situation worse. We need to replace them with things that do work and have people that manage the storm in the middle of that.
That's the easy answer. But to go back to what Kevin said, who is in charge matters. It's top down. We're talking about a fundamental shift in our education system. Away from the punitive systems of the past. The schools are safer, children feel safer, teachers feel safer, gives them thousands of hours of time. So we're at a from a scientific perspective, we're the science we got in 1996, you know, with the book "Changing Lenses," we're still young science. We're still learning and growing.
We're baby in terms of the scientific world. We've got a lot of room to grow. And I think we're going to expand to a lot more places. I think we can help in marriage counseling and community development. I think there's lots of applications that we haven't really touched yet.
JOHN INGLISH: Great.
SEEMA GAJWANI: John, I think there's a couple questions. I think one of them is like an excellent question that I'll throw out from Robin Miller and that gets to the fact that, you know, as we're talking about communication is a core part of restorative justice. And so does that put people with disabilities at a disadvantage? It's a really, I think, disabilities who are you know, young people or their families who struggle with communication as a part of their disability. Do we put those folks at a disadvantage? I think it's a great question. I'd love to hear what you have to say about that, and then others, too.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, I think that is a great question. Let me book a plug in for a book by Margaret Thorsborne, Restorative Practices for Kids with Special Needs, which is a great focus on this very issue that this question poses.
A couple things, because I have had the opportunity to play with these and I'm sure our other panelists have as well. I think Seema is absolutely right. It is a dialogic communication based process. We have to think about universal design for learning when we do that, and that means we have a variety of different individuals with difference strengths and weaknesses.
And so thinking about things like seating, pre teaching. You might need to do a little bit more intake work and do some role plays with a particular young person to prepare them for what this process is going to look and feel like. Not every young person is going to be able to comfortably sit and respond to a prompt in the moment, but you give them a little pre teaching, give them some reflection worksheets, model.
I do, we do, you do, kind of thing. That could be helpful. I think, you know, thinking about using visual tools, mind maps, those kinds of things. All of the other accommodations, of course, I don't mean to just single out one. But helping students visualize and think through using a mind map.
What was this chain of events? Where was my past? Did my path diverge between a pro social choice and a not so pro social choice? How might I do that differently? Those kinds of things can really be helpful for young people to organize.
And then I think self regulation tools. Things like how does your engine run, or other kinds of tools that are designed to help youth monitor where they are in terms of their emotional spectrum is really, really important. It's part of part in parcel of the social emotional curriculum that we need to be teaching alongside reading, math, and science.
So I'll stop there and let anyone else that wants to comment go.
SEEMA GAJWANI: I'll just echo really, you said it better than I could, but our restorative justice facilitators, what makes them so fantastic is that they work really hard with, especially our young people who are charged with a crime, in advance of the restorative justice dialogue, and what they're doing is building rapport and trust, but they're also making sure that the young person does feel really safe and supported.
And they do a lot of what, John, you were just talking about. There's a lot of well, let's practice, and what do you you know, let's do a little role play, and how would you feel if it was your mom who was the one who was hurt, and you were looking at the person and they were apologizing.
You know, do you think it would make you feel better if they were looking at you with eye contact? And, you know, like those kind of things. So that they're really doing a lot of, not only coaching, but also, like, mentoring and supporting and like loving the kids, so that they feel more powerful than they usually do when they're, like, thrown a new question.
So if a young person feels if it feels like they're going to be anxious about getting a question, they'll preview all the questions with them and practice with them. They'll do role plays about, well, what if the victim says this? How is that going to make you feel? How do you think your body is going to feel? What is something that you can say? How are you feeling right now thinking about that? You know, all of those things.
It's part of, I think, the real magic of restorative justice, that you're building a really strong connection with a young person that is based on compassion and support and kind of non judgment. But also accountability. This is somebody who's talking to you and saying what you did was really bad, and how are we going to walk together so that you can make it right.
And I think that I believe that that's a real important and big part of the success of restorative justice, in my mind, that is. And I think that, again, the emotional intelligence of the facilitator is really important in being able to assess the young person and their ability to communicate and all of those things. So that's just maybe one little bit of an answer to that really good question.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. And I see our chat box has got some robust dialogue going on. Before we go to that, does anyone else on the panel want to address the question we just had, or do you want to move to the chat panel?
DARREN AITCHISON: In the chat panel, they're asking about IEPs, and I wanted to be sure we talk about this.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, go ahead, Darren.
DARREN AITCHISON: They're asking about restorative justice as part of an IEP team. I'm not sure exactly what they're asking. Amy, could you clarify that for me?
AMY ALLBRIGHT: Some kids' behavior is a manifestation of their disability. And so I wonder, with restorative justice, you know, how does the IEP team relate, or does it, in schools. Are they an important part of restorative justice for kids with disabilities? Particularly with kids from marginalized communities who may not have a diagnosis that shows that they're that they have a disability, which is, in fact, linked to their behavior.
DARREN AITCHISON: Right. Well, are we running out of time here? I can talk all day about this. I want to make sure we give this proper justice.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, we're at 12:30. We have to wrap up in about 20 minutes and I think we're at a place where we can just address these questions as they come up. So, yeah, feel free to talk, Darren.
DARREN AITCHISON: Okay. So first of all, I can tell you many schools do not follow the idea of procedures properly. They don't have probably the manifestation determination. And the true legal standard is very difficult to prove. It's very hard to prove that somebody is acting out and it's not related to the disability. Very few. That's how I got started in restorative justice. There was a girl that was going to get expelled from school, and I was the special ed administrator. And I learned through investigating that the girl had been bullied for two years by these three girls. She beat up these three girls really bad, she put them in the hospital. Her mom was dying of cancer. They told her every day, it's your fault your mom has cancer. And when she died, they told her, it's your fault your mom died.
So I remanded her suspension, I put her back in school where she belonged, and we handled the problem. If we hadn't done that, that girl would have gone straight the school to prison pipeline. Your mom dies, you defend your mom, and you're on the streets, downhill from there.
So the idea of restorative justice with IEPs is an emerging topic. But I think we can use restorative practices to show kids it's not a manifestation of the disability, it's a manifestation of the system.
And also, IDEA needs to be updated. It's long overdue to be rewritten. So I think we'll get some of these things written in there.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. I'll throw out a comment. I actually
DARREN AITCHISON: Sorry, I could go on all day about this.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. I wrote a scenario in one of our trainings to explore this very question that Amy asks. So, not to get too into the weeds with IDEA, but manifestation of determination review points to a process for designing, doing a functional behavior analysis, and developing a behavior intervention plan. A lot of acronyms.
But at the end of the day, I think it poses a real interesting opportunity. Let's say you did a functional behavior analysis, which is designed to look at a behavior, why it's occurring, what are the antecedents, what are the consequences. And you wanted to have an intervention plan. What a great opportunity to build a restorative justice process into that, right?
So a student who was involved in some outburst of aggression, let's say. Perhaps you could have a restorative process, whereby that student, in the context of the IDEA's manifestation determination review process, it has a chance to think through that and develop some empathy. Oh! Yeah. Pushing another student, had some harm. Here's what was going on for me. Here's what I think needs to happen to make things right.
So I think you can be really creative in thinking about how to integrate some of these restorative practices within the context of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
SEEMA GAJWANI: There are a couple questions I'm going to try and be a good chat moderator here. There are a couple questions about metrics for success. And how would you measure success. And how long does it take to show that restorative justice is working. And Darren I know has addressed some of them in the chat. I don't know if you want to speak to them so everyone can get a chance to hear from you. I'm happy to talk about that, too.
DARREN AITCHISON: People like to use discipline referrals a lot. I don't like to use discipline referrals because they're not uniform, as you all know. But that's the metric that's dropped in our lap. But we see generally an 80% reduction in referrals the first two years if restorative justice is implemented properly with integrity and fidelity, with mental health counseling that comes along with that. Our program is a little bit more robust in that regards.
But the long term metrics are saving. So we're going to save districts as much as a quarter of a million to a million dollars in a five year period by not sending kids to jail. Not a lot of people know this. I'm sure most people know that it's true in every state of the union. It sends more money on average to send a kid to jail than it does to send them to college. So the long term savings of those kids going to college and getting employed and paying taxes as opposed to going to jail and not paying taxes is staggering, it's in the billions, trillions of dollars the last 40 years.
We spent almost a trillion dollars on a system that does not work. As Seema said earlier, we have people who punishing people without regard for the victim is not effective. And we're locking up more and more kids every year and they're getting more and more angry, and it's a snowball effect.
As far as other metrics, school test scores do get better. We don't have conclusive research yet, but we have some emerging restrictions that shows we have that safer climate, it leads to better results in the classroom. But it will take longer to generate those datas, and graduation rates were following children. It's kind of a no brainer, but we don't have the mathematical numbers to prove that yet.
SEEMA GAJWANI: John, do you want to jump in oh, is that Kevin?
KEVIN GILBERT: Yeah, that's me. I've been switching all over the place.
SEEMA GAJWANI: I'm so glad that you're here.
KEVIN GILBERT: Yeah, sorry about that.
DARREN AITCHISON: We thought we lost you for a second.
KEVIN GILBERT: Yeah, I'm sorry. I was going to add to the metric piece of it. I don't know if you all can see me or not.
DARREN AITCHISON: We can see you.
KEVIN GILBERT: When we talk about data. So like school climate survey data is always good to kind of use. Because when we talk about this focus in on relationship building and their proactive approach, that's where you see how students and staff may be connecting to one another, how they're actually meeting the needs, their social emotional needs are being met.
As Darren said, there is no conclusive evidence on performance data yet, but we do know that restorative justice helps with some of the other things that improves academics. For example, in one of the schools that we've been using it, we saw their attendance rates got increased, and we know the research says about the fact that if you are in school, you're more apt to be successful in school, if we can just get you to the school.
So we've seen increased rates in attendance numbers. We've seen increased rates in extracurricular participation. And some of those other things that matter as well, too.
So we try to look at all of that data to see how successful our implementation is happening. In our schools.
DARREN AITCHISON: The teacher retention is another good one that we started to look at. The teacher retention is higher. We have a teacher shortage coming up here in the next ten, 15, to 20 years. We have more teachers retiring than are coming into our teacher education system. So if we're going to retain those good teachers, we need to get strategies that work.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Great point. I'm so glad, Kevin, when we were asking the question, I was thinking oh, Kevin would be great to answer this question. I thought you had disappeared. Thank you for chiming in. Those are great, great points.
John, did you want to weigh in? I think you guys have covered.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah, I think you've covered it really well.
SEEMA GAJWANI: One more question that is in the chat is about what kind of funding streams are effective for restorative justice programs. I'm happy to start on that, just with kind of a hopeful note that although our program is funded by government, as I've been doing this over the last five years, I've gotten more and more inquiries about our work. I think, like John said, restorative justice is a blooming field.
And what I see, you know, from my small little sample size is that restorative justice is kind of blooming in different places, in very different ways, none that I kind of expected. And not necessarily in the way that ours grew.
And there's some states where it's entirely philanthropic, dollars that are supporting the growth of restorative justice within systems. And then there are, you know, faith based leaders and organizations that are leading efforts around restorative justice as well. And I've seen in another state where it's really judges who are taking the helm of advocating for restorative justice, which I was surprised by.
So I think there are so many ways and iterations for restorative justice to grow. I feel that one of the things that we're doing in our office is trying to just kind of prove concept of RJ being a possibility for, like I said, serious crime in the juvenile justice system as an alternative. But what I hope for is that people are more creative and smarter than I come along and find many, many different ways to have restorative justice expand to all different parts of systems and community from schools to, you know, Darren mentioned relationships, marriage. It's a powerful tool for all sorts of different contexts.
And so I think being creative about where you find your support and where you find your resources is a great thing to do right now.
KAREN ANDERSON: I just want to let everybody know, we've got about nine minutes left.
JOHN INGLISH: Thank you, Karen.
Yeah, I'll just tag on to what Seema said. I do foresee that there will be multiple funding streams, like foundations like Robert Wood Johnson, other kinds of you know, Kellogg Foundation, so foundational grants I think are going to be interested, and will be more so with more work that gets done and the more research that comes out and the more we study this, the more we have these kinds of events.
In Oregon, back to government funding, the Oregon legislature this past session allocated $4 million in grants to go out to community organizations that are going to do this work. So, right now, in fact, today is the deadline for the submission of those grant applications.
So, you know, thinking about advocating at a governmental level. At a state legislature, to, you know, put some funding behind this as Kevin and other panelists have said. You know, the budgets cut through rhetoric. So really putting dollars behind our words.
But I think government funding, private foundations, you know, looking at a whole diverse portfolio of different funding streams to help support this work is a good strategy.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Another question in the chat is about how do you overcome resistance to change, which is a great question. Before I hand this off to my colleagues, who I know have lots of experience with this, we all do, I would love to just say thank you to Amy, who helped organize this panel and got us all together and did a lot of the leg work to make it happen. Thank you, Amy, for that.
So how do you overcome resistance to change? Kevin, do you want to go first on that? I know as in your role, you've dealt a lot with that.
KEVIN GILBERT: Sure, sure. So we so one of the things and why leadership commitment is so important when we do this work is that, what we tell our leaders is this. So you're going to have any time you do this kind of transformative work, you're going to have a group of people who you don't have to sell this to. They're ready to go. They're ready to do this.
And then you're going to have a bunch of people in the middle who kind of want to understand better and you can kind of work with them and then you have these other outliers who are just resistant.
We actually don't focus on the resistance. And so at some point in time, what we end up saying to them is, this is where the school is moving, this is where we're moving as a district. We don't mean no harm, but if you're not with this, then we can help you find somewhere else to go. And many times, in education, we try to spend a lot of wasted energy on those who resist, because our belief is if we could turn that one resistance, everybody else will come.
What we found is sometimes the resistors become saboteurs to the work. So we invest in those who are willing. We invest in those who want to learn more. And for and for our resistors, they eventually find somewhere else to go. The school that I talked about that saw the highest turnover, the highest rate of change in their climate survey data, she lost 40 staff members her first year of implementation.
And those staff members felt like they could not do what she wanted to do. And we found placements for all of them. Some of them left our district. Some of them went to school that hadn't quite got onto the restorative justice work that we were doing. And they left. And so, I'm not sure if I'm a good one to answer that one, because I just don't believe in spending time with those who resist.
DARREN AITCHISON: Kevin, you're absolutely right. I tell the superintendent, you will have teachers who will quit and you're better off without them, because there's some people, they like to scream at children, they wanted in education for the wrong reasons. So you're better off without them.
And Kevin is absolutely right. If you waste all your time on those resistors, it's but we have to be more practiced. So I meet with superintendent and teachers union President simultaneously, I get all the information right away. It eliminates sabotage. You're saying, this guy is here to train you, here to help you. The resistance is undermined before it happens.
And then when you show people the success, when you show people that you know, when you're [indiscernible] I'm offering you something that's 80% effective. You've got a land line, I'm offering you an iPhone. You have to show them success as quickly as you can, which can be tricky. But once they see, once they have that aha moment and they see how much better this works than what they have, they're going to get back positive hours of instructional time. They won't want that police officer in the school anymore. It takes a few years to get this up and running. It doesn't happen overnight. But it's not a pie in the sky thing.
The other thing I tell people is this is the way schools are moving now. This is the way society is moving. It's not going to go back.
JOHN INGLISH: Yeah. I'll just add onto that. The model that we've built into our project that I mentioned earlier, PRIDE, is built on delivering whole school training, and then really identifying by self selection, ideally, a team that we actually call early adopters, right? I like to refer to them as the kettle bangers. They walk through the village in medieval times banging the kettle. Those are the folks that are really excited. You don't have to convince them. You want to capitalize on their energy.
And they often will show your quick wins. They'll get buy in of your you know, more of your middle of the Bell Curve, your people who are kind of on the fence waiting to see if this is really going to float.
So yeah, I agree with all my panelists. Invest your energy in the people who get it, the people who are, you know, doing it for the right reasons and want to make a change, and you can really create some nice momentum.
KAREN ANDERSON: This is Karen. We have about two minutes left.
JOHN INGLISH: Okay. How about any final words of wisdom from each of our panelists. Let's start with Seema. Seema, what's your final word of wisdom to all of us?
SEEMA GAJWANI: Maybe I will just chime in as kind of like the pushback on that last question and say, you know, I started a program within a prosecutor's office where we had almost everyone resistant to our work. And so the option of just, you know, ignoring them was not really viable for us.
And so in those circumstances, what we've done is we have one by one, under the cloak of really a firewall and confidentiality, we've invited each prosecutor to sit in and observe a restorative justice conference between a young person and their family and a victim and their family, and what we found was after and even the most, you know, kind of skeptical and hostile prosecutors, after they sat in on a conference, they would send us more cases and more serious cases, because that experience I think is a really powerful one.
So my suggestion is to not give up on everyone and, you know, be restorative in how we deal with everyone, right? Not just with kids. And not just with kids with disabilities, but also, like, what we do is with our prosecutors and with our judges and with our victims and with everyone, even our opponents in court, is show compassion and empathy to them, too.
JOHN INGLISH: Great, great piece of advice, Seema.
I will leave you all with just a simple phrase. I don't know who said it. I'd attribute it if I could. But relationships are stronger than metal detectors.
Kevin, words of wisdom?
KEVIN GILBERT: Yeah. I'm going to first say to Seema, I can use you, Seema. So I might bring you into my district to help with my resistance. I believe you could change anybody.
My words of wisdom are restorative justice is about three things: Relationships, relationships, relationships.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. And finally, Darren.
DARREN AITCHISON: First of all, John, there's some questions about funding and where they can receive funding. If they send me an email, there's a lot of things I can't get out here in the next 30 seconds. But I can point them in the right direction.
I just wanted to say, in the words of John Wooden, failure is not fatal, but failure to change just might be.
JOHN INGLISH: Great. Great nuggets of wisdom. With that, I'd like to thank everyone, all of you for showing up. I'd like to thank my fellow panelists. Thank Amy for organizing this. Thank our interpreters and captioners for making this accessible. I hope this has been valuable. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the symposium. And go forth and do good work.
SEEMA GAJWANI: Thank you, John. Thanks, everyone.
JOHN INGLISH: Thanks. Bye bye.
JOHN INGLISH: Okay. I have 11:20 where I am in Oregon, which means 2:20 on the East Coast, and you can do the math on the other time zones, wherever you happen to be. But I'd like to welcome everyone to this work stop on restorative justice, building relationships in schools and the juvenile justice system.