Note: This story is part of “State of Mind: The Modern Condition of Youth,” produced in partnership with local, independent news outlet NowKalamazoo, which provided editorial support and guidance. Published at Knight Life News.
In 2019, records showed that, from August to October, there were 747 suspensions in Kalamazoo Public Schools. In 2021, most recently, records showed 571 suspensions over the same period of time. The year in between, which was virtual, resulted in one suspension; an expected low number when considering online education’s isolation of students from one another.
In an effort to reduce harsh disciplinary practices and help students learn from their conflicts, the KPS district has begun to use other modes of intervention to solve student issues in place of and in addition to removal from the classroom. These efforts in restorative justice could be responsible for the decrease in suspensions in the 2021 school year.
Gryphon Place has been a large catalyst in Kalamazoo for the implementation of restorative justice in KPS schools. This mental health service supplies restorative justice training and has programs in schools. Norrix is one of the schools at which these programs take place: restorative justice facilitators are at the school two to three times a week and often handle non-violent conflict and peer mediation through restorative conferences.