Date of Conferral







Felicia Blacher-Wilson


The phenomenon of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) has been of interest to scholars since the late 1990s when their impact on life outcomes concerning physical and mental health was first acknowledged. Educators are challenged to support students who have experienced ACE, but many have implemented alternative practices such as restorative justice (RJ) to support students’ academic needs. There is insufficient empirical evidence to determine how elements of RJ support high school students who have experienced ACE. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the RJ practices that teachers, administrators, and other school personnel have implemented to support the academic needs of students with ACE. Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism was used to inform how RJ can support students with ACE and to examine the practices that are most helpful. Data were collected using semistructured interviews with six teachers and administrators who worked closely with students with ACE in an RJ educational setting. Results indicated that building positive relationships is the foundation of restorative justice in schools; once students feel safe and respected and have positive relationships within the school, student outcomes improve. Students and educators may benefit as a result of the current study, which could contribute empirical evidence of RJ practices that could provide academic support to students with ACE. This evidence would have the potential to influence positive social change by informing educational strategies, professional development for educators, and educator training programs.