School leaders push for alternative student discipline
An employee from Park Center High School is urging school leaders across the state to consider an alternative discipline method called 'restorative practices.'

Restorative practices is a form of discipline that requires students involved in an incident to talk to each other about what happened.

Education Minnesota, the state's largest teachers union, wants more schools to adopt this model.

"So it's restoring those relationships so that you can go back and work with the student, and you both have a different understanding of what happened and how you relate to each other," said Becky Hespen, an education support professional with the Osseo Area School District.

Hespen has worked with special needs students at Osseo Area Schools for the past 25 years.

Thursday morning, she and other union leaders from Education Minnesota released a report that promotes the restorative practices model.

They hope this can be the beginning of a yearlong conversation where they encourage educators across the state to take more time to understand why a student is acting out before disciplining that student.

"Zero tolerance, the suspensions, it's not working," Hespen said. "It's not working. We're not seeing it working. We're getting more and suspensions. We're getting kids who are under-achieving, more challenges with behaviors, it's not working."

Officials from Education Minnesota say that they might need legislative support to provide the resources that school districts would need to implement restorative practices.

If you'd like to see the full report, you can go to the Education Minnesota website.

Delane Cleveland

March 30, 2017


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