Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $400,000)
The Center for Community Justice will expand its partnership with Elkhart Community Schools through a Restorative Justice in Education Liaison program to provide personnel to support selected school buildings in implementing restorative practices in order to prevent school violence.
This project will provide support to the selected schools through two forms: direct facilitated restorative services and training and capacity building. Direct services will be provided to students through community building preventative measures and conflict resolution intervention. The project will train school staff in preventing school violence through the nurturing of healthy relationships, repair of harm and transformation of conflict, and the building of a just and equitable learning environment. The project will also provide additional implementation support to help schools establish sustainable structures for continuation of restorative justice philosophy and practices after the project ends.
Primary activities include facilitating Community Building Circles in Classrooms and working with students and staff for repair of harm and conflict resolution processes (circle or mediation) as needed. Activities also include providing training and implementation support for school staff on Circle processes, Restorative Chats, and other restorative and SEL practices. Project staff will then provide follow-up coaching and support as teachers implement the practices. Project staff will coordinate and chair the school RJE leadership team and work with them to develop and oversee progress on school implementation plans, and collect and analyze data. The Program Coordinator will coordinate a multidisciplinary team to support and enhance the partnership.
Center for Community Justice and Elkhart Community Schools expect to see a decrease in office disciplinary referrals and suspensions after the three years of project performance. It is expected that reported instances of school bullying and violence will decrease after the three years of project implementation. Students and staff will report an increased sense of safety in their school through administered surveys.
This project will focus on a deep level of support for 2-4 school buildings within the Elkhart Community Schools, which can later be replicated with additional funding. Elkhart Community Schools serves students K-12 within the City of Elkhart (zip codes 46507, 46514, 46516, and 46517) The district serves approximately 12,000 students through 14 elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school.
This project will benefit students, families, and staff of Elkhart Community School district as well as the broader community of Elkhart County.