An agreement that ends a Portland, Oregon, teachers strike includes a sweeping call to provide “restorative justice” to students who tick the right boxes.
The strike was resolved late last month, according to CNN.
In the past, middle school and high school students could be suspended for at least five days in case of the most serious incidents of physical harm or threats of violence, according to KGW-TV in Portland.
Now, a team of staff psychologists, counselors and social workers will become involved, with more staff assigned as needed.
“Black, Native American, and other students of color are referred out of class significantly more often,” the district’s Collective Bargaining Team said in a letter to families last month.
“Students receiving special education services also bear the burden of disproportionate discipline. This ‘discipline’ is far from the root of the term ‘discipline’: to instruct, train, and educate,” the letter said.
The mix of factors to consider to develop just the right approach includes “the impact of issues related to the student’s trauma, race, gender identity/presentation, sexual orientation … and restorative justice as appropriate for the student.”
Mandatory suspensions are out. They are replaced with the potential removal from class but not the school.
“The District and Association are committed to an approach for student conduct and discipline that aligns with the PPS Vision and utilizes research used in Racial Equity and Social Justice, Restorative Justice and Trauma Informed to minimize the use of exclusionary discipline and to maximize instructional time while repairing harm done within the school community,” the agreement said.
“Student behavior is a communication of unmet needs and makes sense when put in context. The disciplinary response process should be aimed at meeting these needs and create an environment that helps students find new ways to meet their needs,” it said.
The agreement said that escalating violence or serious violent incidents could still result in removal from school
Michele Exner, senior adviser for Parents Defending Education, called the discipline policy “absurd.”
“These policies are wrong, counterproductive, and will only feed into the divisive climate we are seeing across academic institutions,” Exner told The Washington Free Beacon.
Would love to hear from Portland Schools’ leadership on how this will be implemented. Check enough “identity” boxes and your punishment is canceled? Seems fair.
“Portland Public Schools Must Now Consider Race, Gender Identity When Disciplining Students” https://t.co/PdHzYPMvsg
— Michele Perez Exner (@michelepexner) December 5, 2023
Portland was developing a “restorative justice” pilot program at the time the pandemic hit.
“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),” one city school that was part of the pilot project posted on its website.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.