The South Orange-Maplewood School District is revising its Code of Conduct with a major emphasis on “restorative practices,” and will seek input to ensure the new policy reflects the values of the community, according to information on the district website.
Assistant Superintendent for Administration Kevin Walston presented an update and a timeline on the development of the proposed regulations at the April 23 BOE meeting. The district will be sending out an email survey to the community in May, and will look to launch the new Code of Conduct in September of this year.
A discussion among board members followed, with several emphasizing that the district look at conduct holistically, and focus not only on student conduct but also on how teachers and staff behave toward students.
“Challenging behavior can come from both sides,” said BOE member Robin Baker. Baker also asked how students would be made aware of the new code. Walston said there have been discussions about that with adults and students, and that student involvement is a priority.
Since there have been so many significant changes to the initial draft, the district will look to develop a new committee to review feedback from the community, said Walston.
The district will seek to hire a consultant to help implement the plan; however, “The consultant will not be here forever,” Walston noted. Professional development is a key component of the plan, and Walston emphasized the importance of properly training teachers and staff (including school security officers) in restorative practices.
Just what are restorative practices? Here is a definition from SOMSD:
Restorative practices are a framework for building community and responding to challenging behavior through authentic dialogue leading to understanding and action to set things right and repair and restore damaged relationships. The process supports initiators in acknowledging and repairing the harm done, helps victims and witnesses process what happened, and helps the class or school community rebuild trust.