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Stakeholder Perspectives of Restorative Practices Implementation in an Urban School District

Kristen Hinson, Johnson & Wales University


Ever since zero-tolerance policies took effect in schools, suspensions have significantly increased (Losen & Skiba, 2010). There is little evidence, however, that suspensions improve the behavior of suspended students (Gregory, Clawson, Davis, & Gerewitz, 2016). Exclusionary discipline can negatively affect a student’s future. Students frequently suspended are less likely to graduate and more likely to be adjudicated (Losen & Martinez, 2013; Rosenbaum, 2018; Skiba et al., 2014). In addition to the risk of suspension, the Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) requires that all schools implement an alternative discipline plan aimed at managing behavior while minimizing exclusionary discipline (ESSA, 2015). Implementing restorative practices may be one alternative to address these challenges. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe stakeholder perceptions of restorative practices implementation in an urban school district. The overarching research question guiding this inquiry is: How do stakeholders in an urban school district describe the implementation of restorative practices as they contribute to climate and discipline in their school building communities? This research was conducted in an urban school district that employs the use of restorative practices, as defined by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (Wachtel, 2015). Administrators (N=5), teachers (N=7), current students (N=12), and recent graduates (N=4) from the district were selected using maximum variation purposeful sampling. Interviews were conducted with school administrators and students; focus groups were conducted with students and teachers; an expert informant (N=1) participated in a semi-structured interview; finally, document analysis of relevant district documents (N=17) supported and triangulated the primary data sources. Three themes emerged from converging the data sets: 1) Importance of Whole School Integration of Restorative Practices, 2) Stakeholder Perspectives on the Effects of Restorative Practices on School Climate, Discipline, and Outcomes for School Communities, and 3) Barriers to Implementation of Restorative Practices. Braithwaite’s (2003) Reintegrative Shaming Theory, in which shame is used to change behavior with the goal of reintegrating offenders into the community, framed the interpretation of the findings. The findings may provide important and actionable information about the implementation of restorative practices for urban school leaders, based on the perspectives of key stakeholders.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education philosophy|Multicultural Education

Recommended Citation

Hinson, Kristen, "Stakeholder Perspectives of Restorative Practices Implementation in an Urban School District" (2020). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI27958769.