Justice and Cultural Competence in Denver Disrupt the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Check out Denver Public Schools. They are working to break the school-to-prison pipeline by restoring justice, not just restoring order.  They do have school resource officers--often police--in the schools, as many other districts do.  But they haven't stopped there.  Instead, they have formed three-way partnership between the schools, the police, and a social justice organization called Padres & Jóvenes Unidos.

This is work is different because it challenges White norms about behavior.  Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, along with the Denver PD, are there to help the school distinguish between what is a legitimate conflict between adults and kids or among kids themselves, from behavior that is genuinely criminal.  That is a major step, considering the tremendous authority that educators have to define the terms around kids' behavior in school.

Furthermore, the work in Denver puts restorative justice at the center.  The have decided that when conflicts arise, the school will focus the kids on redemption and repairing the relationships that were broken.  This is far beyond what most schools do, seeking to reinstate order and obedience after a conflict.  If kids come to believe that school offers a respite from the danger and injustice on the block, there is a very good chance that they will protect that safe haven.