Monday, October 15 , 2018, 9:16 am | Fair 62º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Santa Barbara District Considering Expansion of Restorative-Discipline Program

Some Santa Barbara schools have been trying different strategies to deal with student discipline, and officials are about to evaluate the effectiveness of those tactics.

A restorative-approaches program that began as a pilot in the Santa Barbara Unified School District at Santa Barbara Junior High in 2012 has since expanded to the other three junior highs, all district high schools and two elementary schools, Cleveland and Washington.

The district might roll out the program to the rest of elementary schools, but staff will first conduct an evaluation of implementation so far.

What the district refers to as “restorative approaches” are alternatives to the traditional ways of disciplining students who are disruptive in class, get into disagreements on the playground and more. 

“Generally, restorative approaches are more of a philosophy,” said Frann Wageneck, assistant superintendent of student services.

“Traditionally, we would remove that student from the classroom. (But) in instances where we’re not mandated by education code to suspend or expel a student, how can we use restorative approaches to hold them accountable?”

The program that aims to keep students in class and to cut back on suspensions of Latino students — since officials discovered an imbalance in that area  — already has increased attendance and decreased suspension rates and recommendations for expulsion, she said.

Instead of removing students, teachers could talk with them out in the hallway, have them meet with a victim in a conference, or try to do an in-school suspension instead of out of school.

Wageneck said restorative approaches focus on the five R’s: relationships, respect, responsibility, repair and reintegration.

The idea for the program came from a national push to own up to behavior and make amends — similar to restorative justice in prison.

“If we focus on the building of relationships and have respect … then we won’t need to use traditional student-discipline guidelines except in more extreme cases,” she said. “There’s a place for taking responsibility. Our schools are a community.”

Wageneck and her staff presented their program evaluation plan to the district Board of Education at a recent meeting, explaining they’d like to conduct 42 focus groups across the sites before January. 

They will ask staff, teachers, students and administrative employees for opinions on how the program was implemented, if staffing is sufficient, if more training is needed, etc.

School board member Kate Parker said the information might be eye-opening and wondered what evaluations would look like in coming years.

Staff said they hoped to do the evaluations on each site every year.

“I think that’s a lot,” school board member Monique Limon said of 42 focus groups. “I am worried about capacity.”

Wageneck reassured officials there would be enough time and staffing to get the job done. She hopes to present evaluation results in the spring.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.