Expelled and At-Risk Student Services (EARSS) collaborates and works directly with Restorative Practices Specialist Cheryl Oshell to provide restorative opportunities to Thompson School District students. In addition, EARSS coordinator Raquel Macias and EARSS advocate Matt Hughes are trained in Restorative Practices Peace Keeper Facilitation.
The Restorative Practices program in the Thompson School District has completed it’s fourth year of implementation during the 2013-14 school year.
The goals of Restorative Practices for the school district are:
· Reduce suspensions and expulsions
· Reduce number of discipline referrals
· Build community in schools by fostering safety and belonging with keeping students in school and holding them accountable for their behavior in discipline issues
· Opportunities for staff, students and families to resolve conflict and build effective communities, both in school and out of school.
The basic tenets of restorative practices are to bring together in a non-punitive, non-exclusionary way, individuals who have a stake in repairing the harm, and rebuilding relationships. Participants in a restorative intervention could include offenders, victims, whole classrooms, families, staff and others who are identified by the coordinator, administrators, school resource officers, etc.
During the 2013-2014 school year, these interventions have been implemented:
1. Family Group Conferences: This program identifies a student who has committed an infraction of the district discipline code that would normally suggest a suspension. It provides the opportunity to have the suspension waived or lessened. The conference brings together the student who caused the harm, the victim, parents (family) and staff to address the wrongdoing, repair the harm and the affected relationships, and reintegrate the identified student into the classroom.
2. Community Circle Event: The intent is to bring together a small number of struggling families, provide the parents with dinner first (with child care provided), and then invite them to sit in Peace Circle for an hour with some staff and resource providers, before adjourning to the gym/cafeteria for a resource fair.
3. Mediation: Provides opportunities for identified students to resolve misunderstandings, verbal altercations, and such lesser “offenses”, often immediately after they occur.
4. Peacekeeper Circle: Restorative practice developed for the elementary level, to provide the opportunity to acknowledge appreciation of others’ kindnesses and in a safe, facilitated environment, respectfully air small grievances before they escalate.
5. Peace Circle: Another restorative practice that can be used for a variety of purposes: to resolve conflict, problem solve, build community, classroom management, to name a few. Peace Circles generally utilize a talking piece to allow participants to deeply listen to other Circle members and learn more about each other.
Cheryl O'Shell - Restorative Practice Specialist970-613-5776Duties and Responsibilities:
Train, implement and manage all forms of restorative practices district-wide; to include restorative family group conferencing, restorative mediation, Peace Circles, elementary Peacekeeper Circles, Attendance Improvement Mediation event, Community Circle event. Also serve as liaison for youth-serving agencies in Larimer County to TSD by facilitating the Shared Alliance for Youth luncheons quarterly. Provide "Becoming a Love and Logic Parent" classes for TSD parents.