Students gather at a restorative justice workshop at Felicitas y Gonzalo Mendez High School. Photo by Jonathan Olivares.

Students gather at a restorative justice workshop at Felicitas y Gonzalo Mendez High School. Photo by Jonathan Olivares.

With the new school year underway, the Los Angeles Unified School District is expanding its discipline initiatives, and embracing non-punitive enforcement strategies.

This means students will no longer be ticketed for violations such as most campus fights, petty theft, vandalism, trespassing or possession of tobacco or small quantities of marijuana.

Most offenses will instead be dealt with by school administrators, or centers offering problem solving and support.

In a news release, Superintendent John E. Deasy said, “This is another of many policy shifts intended to decriminalize student behavior, when possible, and keep youth in school and out of the juvenile justice system.”

Efforts are aimed at teaching students what is expected of them, and helping to facilitate positive behavior in order to support social emotional learning and improve attendance and graduation rates.

School police officers will work with administrators to provide appropriate intervention and resolutions without arrests or tickets. Officers will instead talk to students, refer them to a school administrator, or issue warnings.

The changes apply to students ages 13 through 17, and are part of a new restorative justice philosophy being adopted by the district in the School Climate Bill of Rights.

Last year, Roosevelt High School was one of three schools to begin implementing the practices. These practices involve teachers, families and peers, and are intending to help students make better decisions, accept responsibility and support healing.

L.A. Unified District officials say discipline changes have already resulted in a decline in suspensions, student arrests and truancy citations.

According to the District, arrests, suspensions and expulsions can still occur for severe offenses, in order to keep schools safe.

2 Responses

  1. Christine Peña

    Restorative Justice needs a support system in every school. It takes time to create a trusting conversation with students who have had Issues while in school. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of personnel, and the stress of testing are problems that have not been resolved. Will the schools have the support from District to carefully and thoughtfully work with students? Seems LAUSD Board of Ed does not have a great track record of following through.

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  2. Garret Weinrieb

    Very informative article. It seems the socioeconomic problems affecting inner city students often bleed into our schooling system. These students need guidance, not tickets and fines. We need better role models to help guide and inspire our future leaders of tomorrow. The fact that most students are of Latino or African American decent shows a bias in the law enforcement system that monitors them. Giving the power back to teachers and school officials to discipline their own students will have a more positive affect on the future success of the youth, as it is those administrators that they see everyday and are more connected to.

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