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Restorative justice works for students

Posted on March 6, 2017 // KIPP Aspire Academy, KIPP Camino Academy, KIPP Esperanza, KIPP Poder, KIPP Un Mundo, KIPP University Prep,

by Juan Juarez | San Antonio Express-News | Photo: Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News

Gilberto was the kind of student I saw in my office all the time when I was the assistant principal of KIPP Camino Academy, a public charter school in San Antonio.

He was out of class almost every day due to conflicts with other students, yelling at teachers, not doing his work and other infractions. When Gilberto ended up with me, I would talk to him, call his parents and issue a punishment —such as suspension — that often kept him out of the classroom.

I thought I was helping Gilberto learn about the consequences of his actions, but when I analyzed the discipline data at the end of the year, I had an unpleasant realization.

Gilberto’s name, along with about 10 other KIPP Camino Academy students, filled the spreadsheet where I kept track of the kids who were referred to me. After scanning the columns, I realized the same small group of children were coming in and out of my office, day after day.

At KIPP, we make a promise to all children who walk through the door that we will help them reach their full academic and personal potential. It was not acceptable that Gilberto, and the other kids on my list, were missing school and jeopardizing their academic potential due to behavior issues. I knew we could do better.

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