Journal of Educational Research and Practice




Zero-tolerance discipline in schools has resulted in disproportionate referrals, suspensions, and expulsions for Black students, students with disabilities, and low-income students of color. Restorative Justice (RJ) seeks to intervene in these patterns by emphasizing community interconnectedness and a discourse of harm, accountability, and repair. Although RJ has been shown to increase school connectedness and decrease suspensions and expulsions, teachers and students using RJ (as a response to discipline issues) report varying degrees of satisfaction with the framework. Frustrations can include limited time and limited depth of conversations with students who have caused harm, so that root causes of behavior are not addressed or explored. Ultimately, if there is no sense of community or accountability established prior to harmful interactions, there is no justice to be restored. Community circles (a practice of ritualized egalitarian discussion) can establish the interconnectedness needed for RJ to be effectively practiced in schools. This paper instructs teachers and school staff how to plan, run, and train students to facilitate community circles in their classrooms.