Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner and Senator Troy Singleton, which would establish the “Restorative Justice in Education Pilot Program,” cleared the Senate Education Committee today.
“Students of color are suspended from school at a much higher rate than their white counterparts,” said Senator Turner (D-Hunterdon/Middlesex). “These suspensions have an immense impact on their academic performance, often times causing students to fall behind and eventually drop out. Reducing the suspensions and expulsions can go a long way to improving the outcomes for our most vulnerable communities.”
The bill, S-2564, would require the Commissioner of Education to establish the pilot program to implement restorative justice practices in 15 schools throughout the state.
“We must have better responses to students misbehaving than telling them to stay home, which is ultimately a disservice to them academically,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “This legislation will offer school districts the opportunity to implement effective and appropriate interventions that focus on improving behavior going forward rather than punishing students for past actions.”
The principals of selected schools would be required to limit the number and duration of student suspensions to the greatest extent possible. The districts selected would be required to provide ongoing professional development to teachers and staff on the adverse consequences of the exclusion of students from school, among other things.
The bill would also establish the “Restorative Justice Grant Fund” within the Department of Education which would be used to provide grants to participating schools.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 4-1-1, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.