Restorative Justice - Ms. Benson

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice - Ms. Benson

In New York City, there are often stark discrepancies in school suspension rates based on race, gender, and disability. In partnership with New York City's Department of Education, our Restorative Justice in Schools project worked in five Brooklyn high schools with elevated suspension rates whose students overwhelmingly come from communities of color. Using restorative justice practices, the program worked with school staff and students to build relationships, to address conflicts, and to reduce exclusionary discipline.

Funded as a research project, the program operated for three years. Researchers from the Center for Court Innovation are now evaluating the initiative’s effectiveness through a randomized controlled trial, assessing whether it improved overall school climate and culture and reduced inequities. The report is expected to be released in 2021. 


About the Program

The Center for Court Innovation’s approach to restorative justice seeks to promote individual responsibility and participation, repair harm, and build relationships. Center staff respond to the unique needs of each individual school, as well as to the context of the surrounding communities.

  1. Relationship-building circles within the school: Our staff worked to familiarize students with the circle process, helping students and teachers to develop empathy and engage with each other in a more meaningful way. Students practiced communication skills, as well as improved listening and focusing skills. 
  2. Responding to harm: Our program offered circles as an alternative to suspension or other forms of exclusionary discipline for students in crisis, or for students returning to the school following a prolonged absence. Addressing harm or preparing for student reentry involved all members of the school community, including teachers and families.
  3. Investment & wrap around support: Our program offered resources and support to the school community, including individualized support for stakeholders through coaching, training, and professional development and assistance with the development of positive school culture and climate activities that foster a sense of belonging and pride in the school community. 

What is Restorative Justice?

Meet Ms.Benson, our Restorative Justice Coordinator. Ms.Benson is a Licensed Social Worker who understands how important it is for our scholars to learn conflict resolution skills. Here at ASE, we are committed to making Restorative Justice the culture of our community. If you have any questions regarding our Restorative Justice program please contact our Ms.Benson at or at 929-561-1957.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a theory of justice that has been used at the Academy of Scholarship Entrepreneurship since the 2015-2016 school year. Inspired by indigenous values, restorative justice is a philosophy and a theory of justice that emphasizes bringing together everyone affected by wrongdoing to address needs and responsibilities, and to heal the harm to relationships as much as possible. Though the school-based lens of restorative justice offers a more equitable and respectful alternative for dealing with disciplinary infractions, it is also a proactive strategy to create a culture of connectivity where all members of the school community feel valued and thrive.

What does Restorative Justice strive to do?

  1.   Build relationships
  2.   Be respectful to all
  3.   Provide opportunity for equitable dialogue and collaborative decision making
  4.   Involve all relevant parties   
  5.   Address harm, needs, obligations, and cause of conflict and harm.
  6.   Encourage all to take responsibility

How is Restorative Justice implemented?                                                                

The program is based on respect, responsibility, relationship-building, and relationship-repairing. Tier I focuses on building a strong community within the school, laying the groundwork for responsibility and respect. Tier II attempts to resolve conflicts and heal the harm students cause, while Tier III supports students reentering the school community after a suspension or expulsion. It also provides individualized support.