Reforming discipline in South Bend schools

NOW: Reforming discipline in South Bend schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- School officials and teachers are introducing an alternative form of discipline to administer in several schools of the South Bend Community School Corporation called “Restorative Justice”.

“Restorative Justice” focuses on emphasizing accountability and creating solutions that better students rather than handing them punishments as discipline.

This call for change comes after the school district faced recent scrutiny for the existing disciplinary protocols, like suspensions, that were disproportionately targeting minority students.

“They came back the same way before they left. So, this restorative justice is really a part of the code of conduct, which really helps the teachers and students to create relationships, positive relationships,” said Francois Bayingana, Principal of Rise Up Academy.

Bayingana says this initiative also falls in line with the district’s “shared responsibility practices” that aim at helping students, especially kids of color, stay in the classroom.

“It reduces suspensions even for us as principals. It’s a double-edged sword because it resolves the issues of self-confidence for the student,  especially out minority, but also builds a relationship through trust so kids can get the education,” Bayingana added.

One student agrees with the notions that were shared in Wednesday’s “Restorative Justice” event.

“I think it’s very important that teachers are here so they get a better understanding of students and the stuff they go through,” one Rise Up Academy student said.

Wednesday’s day-long "Restorative Justice" workshop event helped students and staff members at Rise Up have a chance to strengthen the academy’s new code of conduct practices.

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