Racial Justice and Education Organizations Announce National Partnership Name Change and Upcoming Activities

For Immediate Release:  July 23, 2018 Contact: Heather Cabral, 202-550-6880, heather@westendstrategy.com

Racial Justice and Education Organizations Announce National Partnership Name Change and Upcoming Activities Restorative Justice Partnership continues to provide resources to students, families and educators with nationwide name change and new site visit location

WASHINGTON – Today, the group formerly known as the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership announced its new name, the Restorative Justice Partnership. The partnership is a coalition of racial justice, education, labor and community groups working to ensure widespread and high-quality implementation of restorative justice across the country. The coalition includes Advancement Project, Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Denver Public Schools, National Education Association and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. “We want to capitalize on the work we’ve seen coming out of Denver” said Dwanna Nicole, director of policy and stakeholder outreach at Advancement Project. “We have learned that it is not enough to simply focus on eliminating exclusionary discipline if we want to create strong school communities. We changed our name to emphasize the philosophy of restorative justice because it is centered on building relationships. If relationships don’t exist, there can be no restoration.” The Restorative Justice Partnership is dedicated to ending the school-to-prison pipeline that is perpetuated by zero-tolerance policies and exclusionary discipline practices, such as suspensions, expulsions and the use of police in schools. These ineffective practices, which criminalize students and can lead to imprisonment or dropping out, impact youth of color far more than their white peers. “As we look to serve the whole child in our schools, we have to acknowledge that the need for socio-emotional support for students has increased exponentially. Our job is to create safe spaces for our students to learn how to self-regulate, empathize and participate as members of a community. Restorative justice practices are the tools that support students and staff through that process in an intentional and relevant way.added Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. By involving stakeholders at every level — students, families, educators and school districts — this partnership hopes to support the implementation of restorative justice in schools nationwide. This collaborative model ensures sustainability of restorative justice, which emphasizes building relationships within school communities. “Through this partnership, we’re learning different strategies to implement restorative justice practices throughout Denver Public Schools. Through policy change and complementary professional development offerings, we’ve been able to cut our suspension rate by more than half and have seen an increase in graduation rates since implementation,” said Eldridge Greer, PhD, Associate Chief of Student Equity and Opportunity, Denver Public Schools. “We have to approach our role as leaders in education in a more holistic way. Ensuring a positive school climate is the work of adults. Restorative justice provides a framework for educators to build strong relationships throughout the school building. We want to be sure educators, students, families and community members across the country have access to our resources and webinars that will give them the tools they need to successfully implement restorative justice,” said Harry Lawson, Jr., director of the Human and Civil Rights Department at the National Education Association. “Black and Latino students are disproportionality impacted by exclusionary discipline policies in schools. We know there are valuable long-term solutions creating supportive school communities where children can learn and thrive. Implementing restorative justice is one of them.” added Ricardo Martinez, the co-executive director of Padres & Jovenes Unidos, a multi-issue organization led by youth and families of color who work for educational equity, racial justice and immigrant rights. Along with the new name, Restorative Justice Partnership unveiled a new logo, website and added Dora Moore, an elementary school, to its list of site visits for the 2018-19 school year. In August, the Restorative Justice Partnership supporters and allies can expect three new webinars to help school communities prepare for the upcoming school year. The webinars include Restorative Justice Implementation at the School Building Level: Reflections from Denver’s North High School (Aug. 2), Restorative Justice Implementation at the School District Level: Lessons Learned from Denver Public Schools (Aug. 17) and Restorative Justice Implementation: Expanding the Circle – Understanding the Importance of Community/Labor Partnerships (Aug. 29).

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