If you have attended my Introduction to Restorative Justice or Restorative Justice 101 sessions, you’ve heard me use truancy as an example of how our communities can be accountable to “offenders.” Often kids who are truant have reasons for skipping classes that might not be obvious to the adults in their schools. Many, for example, are ashamed to come to school because they don’t have clean clothes to wear. Under our traditional (zero tolerance) system, those kids might be punished without anyone ever hearing why they are avoiding school. In my trainings, I invite us to look at this situation
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I just opened the blog from last week’s Ed.Gov newsletter. The article, touting the First Lady’s and Secretary DeVos’ school visit to highlight bullying struck a chord with me. Like the author, in my restorative justice experience, I have often found that those who exhibit bullying behavior have a clear justification in their minds for why they act as they do. Traditional methods of disciplining bullies (school administrators using their power to inflict punishment of the student) often allow those children to see themselves as victims rather than forcing them to come to terms with their own unacceptable behavior. However,
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If you know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I listen to National Public Radio (NPR). The other day I was late for an event, but I was mesmerized by the story of a Washington, DC high school that is using restorative justice. NPR officially calls experiences like this, “driveway moments,” and I have had my share over the years. This “driveway moment” resulted from a story called A Year of Love and Struggle in a New High School. I think it is worth sharing with you and revisiting often. I love it because it reminds us
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After every training we ask attendees to complete evaluation forms to help us measure how we’re doing.  As you can see, responses have been overwhelmingly positive from both the large-audience and boutique seminars!  If you haven’t already experienced one of our sessions, contact us about our training offerings and join us at an upcoming session. Here’s a summary of what Introduction to Restorative Justice and Restorative Circles attendees told us through the spring of 2017. 1.    The objective of the workshop was made clear at the outset.  74% Strongly Agree and 23% Agree for 97% approval level. 2.    The objectives
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August 1st brings new legal requirements affecting your school discipline process.  Are you ready to comply with the new law requiring your school to consider restorative justice before imposing a long-term suspension or expulsion?  We can help. Schertzing Communications, LLC supports the use and integration of the restorative justice philosophy and practices in schools.  As a training and consulting firm, our goal is to foster the adoption and empower the use of restorative justice (RJ) in learning communities.  To that end we provide a variety of highly-acclaimed training services and back them up with supportive coaching and mentoring until attendees
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With Memorial Day upon us, the end of the school year is just a blink away.  In your summer planning for the 2017-18 school year, don’t forget the new law requiring schools to consider restorative justice before imposing a long-term suspension or expulsion.  This new law turns Zero Tolerance on its head, and takes effect August 1, 2017.  It is imperative that your discipline team start the year well trained for full compliance. Schertzing Communications is here to help!  Our Introduction to Restorative Justice and Restorative Circles trainings will inform and prepare key staff to meet the law’s requirements.  We
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As the current school year draws to a close, administrators are looking ahead to 2017-18.  Looming large is the new Michigan law requiring schools to consider restorative justice before imposing long-term suspensions or expelling students.  This law takes effect August 1st, so schools will need to be ready to comply before the first student walks through the door. What does that mean to your school?  Each school community will answer that question differently. Some will give RJ a cursory glance, then keep suspending and expelling students under the traditional punitive system. Others will learn about the restorative philosophy and decide
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I share the basics.  Restorative justice discipline is based on ancient principles of addressing the harm resulting from misconduct, rather than focusing on what rule was broken.  It defines accountability as healing the harm caused by one’s actions rather than taking the punishment.  Conducted in an atmosphere of equal respect for all parties in a conflict or discipline hearing, restorative interventions are almost always facilitated with everyone sitting in a circle at the same height.  This equality underscores the harm-doer’s membership in a community that values him/her and intends to hold her/him accountable for making things right as much as
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In the late 1990s when zero tolerance policies started in our nation’s schools they were designed to keep students safe.  This was the Three-Strikes-and-You’re-Out era when everyone was “getting tough on crime.”  And, like so many criminal justice processes, we extended those policies and attitudes to our schools.  Then, shocked by the Columbine High School massacre, our society responded in our typical fashion: we doubled down on punishment. For years, and with each subsequent school shooting, we got tougher.  Here in Michigan ten-day suspensions were handed down for all sorts of conduct violations from fights to insubordination.  Michigan’s Zero Tolerance
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This August a new law takes effect requiring schools to consider restorative justice before imposing any long-term suspension or expulsion.  Further, the law creates a rebuttable presumption that students should stay in school.  This is a significant departure from Zero Tolerance that demanded suspension for any number of infractions. With spring break on their doorstep, schools don’t have much time to prepare administrators to comply with this law and learn about restorative justice.  Luckily, we have some trainings coming up that can help. When restorative justice philosophy, principles and practices are woven into school culture and operations, the process changes
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