Webinar: Restorative Justice in Education: Possibilities for Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline

When: -

Guest: Kathy Evans and Johonna Turner

Host: Carl Stauffer

Co-sponsored by Coming to the Table, a racial reconciliation organization affiliated with EMU, and co-hosted by the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice and MA in Education Department at EMU.

In 2014, school administrators received a “Dear Colleague Letter” from the US Dept of Justice and the US Dept of Education highlighting racial disproportionality in school discipline. The letter calls for schools to begin addressing the excessive use of suspensions and expulsions and suggests that restorative justice might be one alternative to exclusionary discipline. According to educational researcher, Ann Gregory, disproportionality in school discipline is related to a lack of cultural responsiveness in classrooms, as well as things like implicit bias, negative stereotypes, and low expectations. She suggests that building healthy relationships with students might “interrupt” some of those factors, building trust, understanding, and cultural awareness. Restorative justice practices are built on those assumptions. In her 2013 research, Gregory found that implementing restorative practices in school increased the likelihood that students felt respected by their teachers and decreased the disparity gap in school discipline.

In this webinar, Carl Stauffer, Kathy Evans and Johonna Turner, all from Eastern Mennonite University, will discuss Restorative Justice in Education and examine the ways in which the implementation of restorative justice in school settings can address racial disproportionality and interrupt the cradle to prison pipeline.

Guest Bios

kathy evans Katherine Evans has been an Assistant Professor of Education at EMU since 2011. She teaches courses in special education and educational theory and is particularly interested in school and classroom climates, school discipline procedures, and the ways in which restorative justice is applied to educational contexts. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville where her dissertation research employed phenomenological interviews with middle school students about their experiences with in-school suspension. Prior to graduate school, Evans was a middle and high school special educator for students identified as having learning, behavioral, and emotional challenges. Her research, teaching, and scholarship focus on ways in which teachers participate in creating more just and equitable educational opportunities for all students, including those with disability labels, those who exhibit challenging behavior, and those who are marginalized for a variety of reasons.

While at EMU, Evans has been active in furthering the field of Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) both through scholarship and teaching and by working collaboratively with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding to develop an interdisciplinary concentration in RJE within the current Masters in Education degree program. Beginning in the Fall of 2014, the EMU Education Department began offering both a concentration and a certificate in RJE. For more information, please refer to the website: http://www.emu.edu/maed/restorative-justice/

Evans has published several articles and book chapters related to zero tolerance policies, restorative justice, and school discipline practices and regularly presents at professional conferences. She is a member of several professional organizations including the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. In addition, she serves on the board for the Virginia Alliance for Restorative Justice Practitioners.

johonna_turnerJohonna Turner, Ph.D, new faculty member at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), will discuss key lessons and insights from the work of young people, particularly youth of color, who are organizing for restorative justice. Johonna earned her PhD from the University of Maryland, developing expertise in youth activism and organizing; critical prison studies; and arts, culture and social change. She holds Bachelors degrees in Journalism and Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Missouri, a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland, and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Youth Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary.

For over 15 years, Turner has worked with arts collectives, community organizing groups and other social movement organizations to build youth leadership, enfranchise marginalized communities, and advance restorative and transformative approaches for community safety. In 2007, she was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute. As a Justice Fellow, she worked alongside young people to research and promote community-based strategies for challenging violence, launching youth leadership development programs that integrated peace education, arts & media production, movement-building, and trauma healing. In 2008, Turner collaborated with local teenagers to produce Vision Is Our Power, a documentary film on ending violence against youth including gun violence, dating violence and police violence.