Reducing School-Based Arrests for Youth with Behavioral Health Needs

Project Term: 24 months; Ended 2019
Grant Amount: $60,000

In partnership with Kalispell Public Schools, the Center for Restorative Youth Justice (CRYJ) worked to develop and implement an alternative model for out of school suspensions based on a trauma-informed and restorative approach. The approach focuses on constructive, supportive ways to addressing discipline, with the goal of limiting the transfer and over-representation of youth with school-based non-violent offenses and behavioral health needs in the juvenile justice system. The data reported that 32 youth were referred to the program resulting in 160 less days of off-campus suspension, increased school engagement and less recidivism suggests that this approach to addressing school discipline improves student outcomes and creates opportunities for increased connection for students who are at-risk of entering the juvenile justice system. The project successfully launched an alternative to off-campus suspension and justice system referrals and engaged in long-term planning and technical support for the school board and committees. This project was pivotal in creating a foundation for future development and revisions to disciplinary guidelines across the Kalispell Public School District. The school district has committed their own funds to training teachers and administrators in the use of restorative justice and restorative practices as alternatives to sanctions-based discipline before the upcoming school year and have committed to a full revision of disciplinary guidelines.

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