The Maryland Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices has released its Final Report and Collaborative Action Plan. The commission, chaired by Barbara Sugarman Grochal, MAT, MBA, director of School Conflict Resolution Education Programs for the Center for Dispute Resolution (C-DRUM) at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, spent 18 months studying discipline in Maryland public schools.
In the 117-page document, the commission reviewed the empirical evidence surrounding school discipline. Based on that evidence, the commission found no support for zero tolerance or exclusionary discipline; it has been widely declared ineffective and its disproportionate application among different groups of students is especially troubling. Alternately, restorative practices, such as proactive and problem-solving circles, mediation, and mindfulness, were found as preferable methods of school discipline.
The primary authors of the final report were Grochal, Deborah Eisenberg, JD, professor of law and director of C-DRUM, and Gail Sunderman, PhD, of the Maryland Equity Project at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Reflecting its commitment to social justice, Maryland Carey Law was proud to welcome the commission, consisting of 26 policymakers, educators, administrators, conflict resolution and legal experts, and advocacy group representatives, to the school for commission meetings.
C-DRUM has been a leader in the school discipline reform movement since its founding in 2003. Mediation clinic students have been visiting area schools for years, first instructing students, teachers, and administrators in conflict-resolution skills and now teaching restorative practices.
Grochal, as commission chairwoman, served as the crucial link between C-DRUM, Maryland Carey Law, and the commission, but, she insists, the connection was obvious. She says, “We have a law school that shares and really promotes C-DRUM’s mission to ‘promote the power of conflict resolution to build a more just society.’ ”
Now that the commission’s report has been submitted, C-DRUM remains committed to advocating for school discipline reform. The center has been honored with a grant from the Charles Crane Family Foundation to fund a training in restorative practices for educational leaders and hold a roundtable for representatives from different school districts to share their work and experiences with restorative practices.
The Final Report and Collaborative Action Plan can be found here: School-to-Prison Pipeline Commission Final Report.
More information about the commission and Alternative Dispute Resolution at Maryland Carey Law can be found here.