There's growing understanding that out-of-school suspensions can be damaging to students. This Thursday, a group will hold a one-day training on an alternative approach called restorative justice.
What’s different about this training is that the people in charge of leading the session are teenagers and their audience is teachers.
Nicholas Bradford is the founder of the National Center for Restorative Justice, a Seattle-based group that's organizing the training. He said schools need to understand that it takes time to use restorative justice properly.
“That’s just the nature of building relationships with young people,” Bradford said. “And if you do that, if you invest that time in community building circles and having conversations after hard things, you’re going to see that investment pay off in the long term.”
The students attend public schools in Issaquah, Federal Way, Bellevue and Gig Harbor that are affiliated with Big Picture Learning, an organization that promotes an educational model that emphasizes internships. The students leading this week’s training have been interning with the National Center for Restorative Justice.
One workshop they're planning for this week's training focuses on helping adults understand the students' point of view, Bradford said. The students will ask the participants to reflect on one adult they trusted when they were in school and why.
He said having young people deliver the training is powerful.
“Every time young people get up there and share their experience of conflict, share their experience of what it’s like to be in school in an authentic way, share how they’d like it to be different, how they’re engaged, adults see that and adults want to change,” Bradford said.