Restorative justice is a philosophy and practice of taking responsibility for actions that have hurt or harmed someone else and/or yourself. Rather than focus on punishment and isolation from the community, restorative justice focuses on meaningful accountability, which includes actively engaging in understanding what harm has been done and how to repair the harm. Mediation, circling, family conferencing, victim/offender meetings and other collaborative processes are commonly utilized through a restorative framework.
The goal of restorative justice, on the school level, is to look at the effectiveness of restorative justice in addressing the disproportionate number of students of color being affected by major discipline referrals (in-school suspension, suspension and expulsion). At a juvenile justice level, the pilot project aims to look at options that keep students in school and break the connection between exclusionary practices in education and rates of juvenile incarceration. The program allows administrators to reduce or eliminate major referrals depending on the outcome of the meetings, as well as provide support for students, families, and staff to find meaningful accountability and repair relationships that have been harmed.