Focusing on accountability, character development, and school and community safety.
Restorative justice practice is a philosophy based on a set of principles for responding to harm and wrongdoing that is victim-centered and focuses on offender accountability to those who were harmed, and to the laws or rules that were broken. Restorative justice is a formal process facilitated by trained, skilled facilitators that brings together those impacted by wrongdoing to discuss the incident, understand who has been affected and to create an agreement for reparation of harm.
Our Restorative Justice project has three main goals:
- Accountability. Restorative Justice provides direct opportunities for students who have harmed others to be accountable to those they have harmed, including themselves and their families.
- Character Development. The practice of Restorative Justice recognizes the need to educate students who have harmed others about the effects of disruptive behavior on those harmed, as well as on the school community. Participants in a restorative discipline process learn the underlying factors that lead to making poor decisions. They practice social skills and learn self-improvement strategies that encourage better decision-making in the future.
- School and Community Safety. The practice of Restorative Justice recognizes the need to keep the school and community safe by building relationships that strengthen the school social structure. Restorative Justice creates opportunities for community involvement in the resolution of wrongdoing, and empowers students and staff members to take personal responsibility for the well-being of the school community.
Restorative Justice Circle - Parent FAQs
It was helpful to hear how my son’s actions affected others. It was also helpful to understand everyone’s point of view and the resolution of how things will change in the future." - Parent
Restorative Justice (RJ) sounds so serious, what is it exactly?
When a student breaks the rules of a school, it can affect many people. The goal of a RJ process is to bring people together to have a conversation. During the process people talk about what occurred, who was affected, and how to make things right. A trained and skilled “RJ Facilitator” leads this conversation. Participation in RJ is always voluntary.
Is RJ a legal or court involved process?
RJ is not a legal or court process unless it is used by the juvenile court. The RJ process is used by both schools and juvenile courts in Fairfax County. The Students Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) document supports RJ. RJ is often suggested as a great way to resolve an incident or conflict that has occurred.
How much time does RJ take? Will this be an ongoing thing?
The RJ process can benefit many different situations. The time each RJ process takes is different and depends on the situation. The RJ process has two main parts. The first part is an individual meeting with the Facilitator. The second part is a RJ circle with the other people who were affected. The result of the RJ process is usually an agreement that everyone writes together. The agreement sometimes contains follow up actions that will help repair the harm.
Who participates in the RJ process?
The RJ process tries to include everyone who has been affected by what occurred. This could include parents, students, school staff or even community members. RJ is a confidential process involving only those affected by an incident of harm.
Who will lead the process?
A trained and skilled “RJ Facilitator” leads this process. This individual is an FCPS staff person and experienced in RJ.
Do parents need to take part in the RJ process?
Parents are always welcome to join the RJ process. They may also decide not to take part. Parents always need to give permission for their child to take part in the RJ process when it is for discipline.
Will my child have to miss class to participate?
Your child may have to miss class to take part in the RJ process. The RJ facilitator will do their best to try and limit your child's time away from class.
Will this process be recorded on my child’s discipline record?
Situations that use RJ can either be preventative or disciplinary. In discipline cases, the school administrator might record the RJ circle in your child’s record. Please check with your school.
What happens if the RJ circle agreement is not followed?
In the rare event that an RJ circle agreement is not followed,the school administrator will decide the next steps.
What about the other student involved in the situation, what happens to them?
In most cases your child will take part in a RJ process with the other students involved in the situation. RJ is voluntary for all parties, students or parents can decline to participate.
Why isn’t this opportunity given to my children at other schools in FCPS?
RJ is available to all students in FCPS. However, schools are at different levels of implementation and the school administrator decides when to request RJ.