Eye of the Tiger

Suspensions down across RJUHSD

Having previously been identified by the CDE for elevated suspension rates, RJUHSD is initiating restorative practices in hopes of reducing suspensions.

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This article is the second of a two-part series exploring the effect restorative practices will have on RJUHSD students, staff and suspension rates. Click here for the first article, published October 29th. (‘Turning away from suspension,’ C. Medrano & D. Bennett).

After being identified by the California Department of Education for elevated suspension rates, RJUHSD introduced a new restorative punishment model this year; this has led to a decline in suspensions in comparison to past years.

Around this time during the 2017-18 school year, RJUHSD recorded a total of 284 suspensions. This year, that number has reduced to 115.

For RHS specifically, suspensions are down from 65 to 21. These statistics represent suspensions from the first day of each respective academic school year until Nov. 1.

According to director of personnel services John Becker, the decrease in suspensions can be attributed to the implementation of restorative practices throughout the district. These attempts at mediating conflicts and addressing disputes through restoration may serve as an alternative to suspensions in the future.

“[Using restorative practices is] the ideal outcome,” Becker said. “We don’t want [students] away from school; we need them in class.”

As suspension rates decrease, the district has also limited the rate of which Hispanic and special education students are suspended.

The CDE noted the high suspension rates for these students in particular as their reasoning to place RJUHSD on “Differentiated Assistance” in prior years.

At this time last school year, RJUHSD suspended 73 special education students while the number this year reduced to 20.

Likewise, last year’s number of 13 suspensions for English learners was cut in half this year, with RJUHSD suspending 6 students.

“We still have much more work to do supporting all students through difficult situations by providing developing services through our Wellness Centers, restorative practices, classroom management and other alternatives to suspension,” Becker said.

Since restorative practices is a relatively new concept among RJUHSD faculty, Becker believes patience is the key to success in its employment.

“It’s a work in progress,” Becker said. “It’ll take some time before I think we get it fully implemented, but we have a lot of open-minded people working to get this implemented across the district.”
On the administrative level, assistant principals and site principals in some circumstances, work with students to determine the consequences necessary for individual offenses.

According to Becker, there is no definitive guideline for which offenses receive a specific discipline.

For example, physical altercations among students typically results in a 3-5 day suspension, but with restorative practices, suspensions may be reduced to 1-3 days in addition to collaboration with site Wellness Centers.

As administrators and other faculty members work to implement restorative practices through training, principal David Byrd is hopeful that continuing to implement restorative practices will reduce suspension rates.

(LAUREN JEFFERIES / EYE OF THE TIGER)

“For most offenses, maybe it gives students a second chance, a first opportunity to try and fix it in the right way before we just immediately go, ‘you’ve got to leave,’” Byrd said. “If we try that and it’s not effective then I think we can at least feel like we’ve tried and the student is putting us in a position where we have fewer and fewer options.”

On the classroom level, it is at the individual teacher’s discretion to implement restorative practices as they desire and find necessary.

RJUHSD superintendent Denise Herrmann believes that while RJUHSD is still in the transition from a punitive based model to restorative, teachers may still utilize concepts such as “community circles” to help alleviate stress and form connections within the class.

“Different teachers have different comfort levels,” Herrmann said. “Some might not feel comfortable starting [restorative practices] until second semesters, but that really is the very first thing is to get people comfortable with relating to one another.”

While Herrmann officially began her tenure with RJUHSD earlier this year, progress with restorative practice training and implementation makes her hopeful for years to come.

“One of the things that I really love about Roseville is the teachers and the staff really care about the students,” Herrmann said. “I think they’re very open to trying new ideas.”

Byrd hopes that the new practices will help RHS achieve its greater goal.

“Maybe [restorative practices] will change behavior without kids having to miss school,” Byrd said. “Because obviously not being here, whether you’re absent, whether you’re sick, or they are suspended, is impacting the number one thing we try to do here. And that’s provide an education for you.”

About the Writer
CAM MEDRANO, EDITOR IN CHIEF

“Don’t be delicate. Be vast, be brilliant”

This is my third year involved with journalism at RHS and my second year working for Eye of the Tiger....

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