Notes from the Desk of Perry Saidman: Restorative DC is Off and Running

By Perry Saidman

Restorative DC was organized a few months ago with the goal of bringing restorative practices into DC schools.  Here is a summary progress report.

•Schools - We are working with the following 5 schools this year:

◦Ballou High School

◦Hart Middle School(the feeder school for Ballou)

◦Luke C. Moore High School

◦Maya Angelou Public Charter High School

◦Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) – Middle School and High School

Highlights - Training and Circles

◦Advanced Restorative Justice and circles training (3 days) has been provided to District of Columbia Public School’s central staff and select staff from Ballou

◦Introductory training (2 days) has been held for school personnel from Ballou, Hart, Stanton, and Johnson  

◦Introductory training (1 day) for Restorative Practices in the classroom has been provided to Ballou teachers

◦Peer mediation training (2 days) has been held for 50 students at CHEC

◦Student circles have been held for 9th grade student orientation at Ballou

◦Restorative conferencing facilitator training has been conducted for the DC Office of the Attorney General staff, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services staff, and a representative from the Mayor's office.

Two responsive restorative circles have been facilitated at Ballou and CHEC.

Highlights - Partnership with the DC Office of the Attorney General

◦We have been working closely with Seema Gajwani from the Office of the Attorney General to support a pilot to reduce the number of on-school arrests and suspensions at Ballou. Attorney General Carl Racine is committed to reforming the juvenile justice system and wants to focus on Ballou since they have some of the worst numbers in the city. Seema is the point person from his office and she is amazing. Restorative DC is providing significant training and technical assistance to plan and implement this pilot.

Highlights - Building the Restorative DC Team

We finalized the purchase orders with the Office of the Superintendent of Schools for Education (OSSE) and the DC Public Schools for FY15 funds. We have begun negotiating with OSSE for FY16 funds and believe we will be able to get more than anticipated.

◦We are developing an evaluation plan and data collection process, Restorative DC outreach materials, team norms and reporting tools, etc.

Overall, the RCD Implementation team has gotten a great deal accomplished in the last two months. The Advisory Committee for RDC, facilitated by Perry Saidman, is beginning to think about longer term funding and organizational development.