Cheyenne Student News

Cheyenne’s Restorative Justice Program is a Model for the Clark County School District!!!

Amaya C. & Aliyaa C., Staff Writers

Cheyenne High School is giving students the opportunity to stay in school after making poor choices through a program called Restorative Justice. Typically, when students are referred to the Deans’ Office for poor behavior, a suspension or expulsion can occur depending on the severity of the offense. However, through Restorative Justice, students have an opportunity to restore their standing in the Cheyenne community.

 

Cheyenne’s Restorative Justice Program was implemented during the 2016 school year to reduce suspensions and expulsions at Cheyenne. The program has had a drastic, positive impact on school climate and students’ behavior.

 

According to social worker Gerald Robinson, “Last year we had about 434 students that we saw, and we only had 3 repeat attendees.”

 

To start this program, a committee, including a school counselor, teachers, and student representatives, had to be formed. Cheyenne also provides peer mentors who provide support and feedback to student offenders.

 

Alanna K., 11th grade Cheyenne student, is a member of the restorative justice program. She explained the benefits of serving on the committee. “It’s a good experience and helps us prepare for future life situations. It also gives us an understanding of what goes on in the Cheyenne community”.

 

This program was designed to keep students in school, deal with the issue, and repair the harm that was done. Restorative justice meetings take only 15-20 minutes of class-time instead of assigning students suspension days. This helps students avoid a tremendous amount of make-up work and missed classroom instruction.

The program has been overwhelmingly successful. A large number of the students who go through the program infrequently return to the Deans’ Office due to behavior issues”

Ms. Cynthia Lanctot, Cheyenne’s Dean of Students, expressed the benefit of not missing class due to suspension or expulsion. “I can’t ever give that knowledge back to a student. I mean they could go back and read a part of the book, or they can read the worksheet their classmates worked on, but it’s never going to be like sitting in the class and getting instruction from the teacher,” said Lanctot.

 

Providing justice plays a large role in this program. Not only is the program meant to reduce suspensions and expulsions, but also it’s meant to restore the relationship between the student, class, and teacher. Justice for the affected teacher or student may result in an apology to the class or an apology letter being written to the person harmed by an offender’s behavior. Eventually, a student will return to the class, so the problem needs to be addressed beforehand or the situation may repeat itself.

 

Gerald Robinson explained that a majority of students appreciate the opportunity to have a second chance and to have their side of the story heard by the restorative justice panel.

 

Senior Cheyenne student, Kahlil M., explained why he prefers the program to suspensions. ”I believe it’s a good program that keeps kids in school and helps them think about their actions.”

 

The program has been overwhelmingly successful. A large number of the students who go through the program infrequently return to the Deans’ Office due to behavior issues.

 

“Our success rate thus far is pretty good. From last year, we were at a 98.8 percent success rate. Our success rate this year hasn’t been recorded yet since this year hasn’t ended,” explained Ms. James, a counselor at Cheyenne High School.

Overall, Cheyenne’s Restorative Justice Program aims to teach life lessons, decrease suspensions and expulsions, and create a positive learning environment for students that will further increase our already rapidly growing graduation rate.

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The Voice of Cheyenne High School
Cheyenne’s Restorative Justice Program is a Model for the Clark County School District!!!