Durham Public Schools has implemented a new way to discipline students.
The most visible change is the renaming of in-school suspension (ISS) to the Restorative Practice Center (RPC).
Restorative practice is part of a new program implemented at Riverside along with the with other DPS schools this year. The program focuses on communicating personally with troubled students. Administrators are currently the only ones who assign students to RPC.
Durham Public School’s Board of Education decided to implement the new discipline program. Principal Tonya Williams supports the decision because she believes RPC makes a more effective impact on students.
“We wanted to be more proactive than reactive,” said Williams. “Now they reflect on what they did with the RPC coordinator.”
Jenique Taylor, Riverside’s new Restorative Practices Director, is in charge of working with students as well as being a social worker.
Taylor’s job focuses on keeping down in-school suspension by talking with them because she believes it impacts students more.
“Most students just need to have a conversation and let things out,” said Taylor.
Assistant principal Ashley Stevens believes students often struggle to communicate effectively when they have disagreements. Restorative practices focus on engaging with one another.
“One RPC practice puts students in circles to promote dialogue [about the actions taken] while getting them to reflect,” said Stevens.
Activities also include interacting with the other person they had conflict and communicate each others problems and misunderstanding.
Freshman Damari Dixon finds RPC more effective than past disciplinary programs like in-school suspension. The ISS program was focused on disciplining the students for their actions but never gave them time to reflect about what happened.
“RPC is better [than ISS] by the way you are approached,” said Dixon.
Dixon said RPC lets students express their problems in dialogue circles rather than constant writing assignments.
Although ISS and RPC are in the same room they both implement different concepts on students.
Assistant principal Britton Brown thinks the changes may look small, but they can make a big difference.
“We’re trying to just making sure whatever happened [actions that brought them into RPC] doesn’t happen again,” Brown said.
Graphic provided by Nyah Subero