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Implementing Restorative Justice in Rhode Island Schools: First-Year Implementation of Case Conferencing

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2017
36 pages

Findings and methodology are reported for the process evaluation (quality of implementation) of the Central Falls School District's (Rhode Island) family-group conferences as a means of addressing student misbehavior.


Funding for the program's development came from a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) grant under its Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. The family conference as a means of addressing student misbehavior involves group sessions with misbehaving students and their families, any victims and their families, and relevant school staff. Each conference aims to reach a restorative agreement that addresses the misbehavior and repairs the harm it caused. The project was initially launched in the middle and high schools in Central Falls and then quickly extended to the middle and high schools in another Rhode Island local education agency (LEA) and two charter high schools. Each is in a separate LEA. The current implementation report is the first product of the process evaluation. It stems from an evaluation of the project activities completed during the first full school year of project implementation (2015-16). The report is based on data collected during several site visits, which included about 25 interviews with facilitators, behavior management staff, school leadership, and school staff. Several family conferences were observed by evaluators, and project materials were examined. This report concludes that during the first year of implementation, schools and project staff had significant achievements in implementing family group conferences in participating schools. In the implementation process, staff members have sought to determine what has worked well and what could be improved in the family group conferencing process, as well as the communication and coordination among key actors. In its second year of implementation, the project will continue to integrate concepts underlying family group conferencing into school discipline practices. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 40 references

Date Published: March 1, 2017