Establishes “Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program” in Department of Education
NJEA supports S-2564 (Turner, Singleton). This bill establishes a three-year restorative justice program in the Department of Education which includes a trauma-informed approach. The goal of this pilot is to improve student outcomes and create a shift in school culture to ensure that the needs of students who have experienced trauma are met.
Using restorative justice practices in schools is an approach to discipline that focuses on repairing harm through inclusive processes that engage all stakeholders. While the trauma-informed approach focuses on the same principle, it also brings the neuroscience to understand the behaviors that restorative justice is looking to repair and the psychological intervention tools to prevent them.
Estimates show that over half of the students in our schools, regardless of socioeconomic status and background, have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and/or trauma, which is often unknown by the adults in schools. These experiences negatively affect a child’s ability to learn, and can even permanently impact children’s brain development. Looking at behavior as a symptom rather than the problem, combined with restorative justice disciplinary practices, breaks the cycle of trauma. This empowers students to help themselves and improves school climate and culture, which should lead to better outcomes in schools and in life.
A trauma-informed approach to restorative justice is a paradigm shift for schools. We thank the sponsors of this bill for amending it to be something that can truly be transformative for students and staff, and look forward to working with the Department of Education and this legislature on this pilot program.
NJEA supports this bill and asks that you do the same.
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