Sto-Rox Upper Elementary School is taking part in the “Just Discipline Project,” a program designed to avoid the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Research showed how out-of-school suspensions disproportionately affected Black children according to University of Pittsburgh’s Jay Huguley who is the principal investigator for the project. Huguley’s research showed suspensions pushed those children into the criminal justice system.
The project was formed in the wake of that research and now serves more than 2,500 local students.
“We are delighted to work with the ‘Just Discipline Project,’” said Sto-Rox Superintendent Megan Marie Van Fossan. “We want to reduce exclusionary discipline and increase student achievement, and we believe this partnership will help us attain those goals.”
The program will feature an in-house practitioner at Sto-Rox Upper Elementary School who will lead restorative work, including training student leaders and supporting the professional development of teachers.
“Our foundation is community building,” said Shawn Thomas, program director of the Just Discipline Project.
“You cannot restore anything without a sense of community amongst teachers, as well as with students.”
The project will also respond strategically to problems that arise in the classroom or the community and will provide individualized support for students.
The project will be part of the Sto-Rox Upper Elementary School for the next two school years, with the potential for a third. It’s all due to a federal grant from the US Department of Education, and partnership between the Just Discipline Project and Allegheny Intermediate Unit, through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The “Just Discipline Project” is a restorative practice program housed at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems.
Restorative practices is a science that examines how to improve and repair relationships.