In order to address the school to prison pipeline, TDP is working to affect change in the school discipline policy. We have gathered diverse voices from teachers and students and conducted research on other cities and have found that positive discipline and restorative practices are essential. Restorative Practices offers a way to proactively build relationships and a sense of community. While this isn’t a replacement for suspensions, it has the power to greatly reduce the need for suspensions and speaks to a great need that exists for there to be positive school culture.
Baltimore has attempted to reduce suspensions and create a progressive code of conduct that moves the district towards RP. There are some challenges in the change process however--there is a tendency to eliminate or reduce suspensions without adequate investment in RP training which leaves teachers without needed resources. TDP has conducted research on policy and process in other places to find out how places like Oakland and New York have managed the transition that Baltimore City Schools is looking to embark on. TDP has been offering trainings through Community Conferencing on RP and is planning to take a team to Oakland for the annual national conference.
A great local resource is Community Conferencing Center: Community Conferencing is an evidence-based restorative practices that provide students, teachers, and administrators with effective ways to prevent and respond to school and youth program conflict and violence. With a focus on communication and accountability, our Restorative Justice practices (Daily Rap and Community Conferencing) help schools and youth programs build a sense of connection. The Community Conferencing Center also offers additional Restorative Practices Professional Development for those interested in learning new ways to build community, address conflict, and strengthen relationships.