San Diego Unified School District debuts new way to discipline children

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 21:29:02-04

San Diego (KGTV) - Holding students accountable for their actions without removing them from the classroom.

The San Diego Unified School district plans to change student discipline focusing more on conflict resolution.

"It helped me overcome a lot of the harm that was done to me,” said Larissa Galeana.

Larissa tells 10News she never got in trouble, but did benefit from the concepts of restorative justice.

“Most of the harm that was done to you, when you talk about it, you tend to cry or not want to talk about it,” she said. “The more you talk about it, it gives you power.

Larissa says she learned the concepts at Crawford High School. That’s when she got involved with Mid-City Can. She learned different practices that used restorative justice.

"To heal the community, to heal the relationship between both and just be more safe,” she said.

Now a graduate, those ideas she's been practicing to help others at the school will be a reality across the San Diego Unified School District.

The district approved the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's School Climate Bill of Rights.

It pushes the ideas of Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice intervention.

One of the principles is to have a positive, collaborative, healthy, healing school environment.

It also opens to door for alternative forms of student discipline so that fewer students are suspended or expelled from school.

According to background information on the district's board agenda, “Under the guidance of the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network (CAN), the Peace Promotion Momentum Team (PPMT) was created in 2009 by City Heights residents who wanted to foster a safe, fair, restorative and thriving community. Their vision is a safe community established and maintained by engaged and informed residents.  PPMT is comprised largely of City Heights residents as well as members of local organizations that are faith-based, community networking-focused, or service-oriented, and members of other stakeholder groups interested in public safety, community cohesion, community-police relations, education, youth well-being/academic success, and racial justice. Since its onset, PPMT has focused on the application of restorative justice practices in order to address the aforementioned issues and therefore dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.”

San Diego Unified has spent the past few years attempting to become a restorative district. On the SDUSD's website is says, “By using restorative techniques, students and teachers can share positive and challenging personal stories about their school experience which, in turn, helps build empathy and stronger relationships. Based on stories shared, students and teachers can support each other and there is a natural desire to create more instances where everyone is feeling connected.”

This school climate bill of rights helps put the district all in on the concept.

Larissa believes this new approach will have a positive impact on students.

"It changed my life so it can probably change somebody else,” she said.

San Diego Unified tells 10News, about 500 adults were trained in restorative practices last year.