Learn more about how Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy embedded restorative justice into their school in Chicago, Illinois below!
Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy (IJLA) is a school with a mission to re-engage students in a rigorous and social justice inspired program driven by a student centered environment. Social justice is defined as a way of life that challenges an individual to realize the power and potential in themselves and their community.
The school is guided by the principle that education is the foundation for critical reflection, understanding, unity, and leadership, which are elements necessary for students to take action and transform the world around them. The school is envisioned as an educational community center emphasizing full integration and participation of faculty, students, staff, parents, and partners in decisions that shape the school. The school also employs a restorative justice model in addressing the socio-emotional needs of the students, especially in the context of harmful or violent behaviors.
The restorative justice model that the school has developed over the years has not been formally documented in terms of the different activities, processes, and components that work together to achieve their goals. Restorative justice is a process that is aimed at creating dialogue between all parties involved when something happens that upsets the culture of the school, such as the violation of a school policy or rule. The process establishes accountability by attending to all sides of the story and for the community to come up with consequences for the resolution together. The school encourages all students to take responsibility for their actions through this approach, which helps to set a culture of peace and respect in the school. The staff and students of the school are the holders of knowledge in terms of how this model works and the impact of student transformation.
Purpose and Goals of the Project
The research project is a participatory community-based study committed to:
- Identifying the steps, processes, and outcomes of restorative justice at Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy (IJLA)
- Identifying the issues the group uses restorative justice to address
- Documenting how restorative justice works at IJLA
- Using the findings to articulate/illustrate restorative justice to others
Their short-term project goals include:
- For students to learn by doing all the steps of the research process
- To create a logic model that illustrates how the group thinks restorative justice works at IJLA
- To disseminate information about restorative justice at IJLA
Their long-term project goals include:
- To promote what we already know about restorative justice and learn more and expand it so that others can apply it as well/to be able to share it with other schools or organizations
- To be able to implement the model at new campuses
- To locate their community in the larger restorative justice discourse
- To able to learn research skills to apply to future projects
Students led the RJ PAC with support from one teacher. Examples of the activities they participated in include:
- Meeting 1-2 times a week to work on the project
- Attending a training on logic models
- Attending trainings on how to do research (i.e., developing research questions, facilitating focus groups)
- Developing the focus group interview guide
- Transcribing the focus groups
- Providing feedback on preliminary findings of focus groups
- Contributing to summary of findings
- Creating website to disseminate findings
To see more on their work, please visit: http://ijlarjpac.wix.com/ijla-rj-pac