The high prevalence of juveniles with disabilities ending up in the justice system shows that it is impossible to address the School-to-Prison Pipeline without considering the needs of students in special education programs. The Center for Dialogue and Resolution (CDR) runs a Restorative Peer Court Program, where youths who have received citations are diverted from the traditional justice system to voluntarily participate in a restorative justice process. CDR has adapted its program to meet the needs of students with disabilities by offering flexible and reasonable accommodations. By way of example, CDR recently coordinated bringing in a translator to facilitate communication with a deaf juvenile.
The Restorative Peer Court Program offers students the opportunity to take accountability for the harms that resulted from their actions. The increased engagement promoted by the CDR program helps create opportunities for transformative learning, facilitating the kind of deep changes that can help juveniles avoid the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The presentation will be delivered in the form of a three-hour skill building workshop, including:
- An orientation to the Restorative Peer Court model currently employed by CDR.
- A discussion on ways such a model could be brought further “upstream” in schools as a precursor to juvenile justice system involvement.
- Tools and exercises for installing a restorative justice program that meets the needs of students with disabilities using implementation science principles.