Louisville, KY – In 2010, CLOUT turned their attention to the growing phenomenon known as the “school to prison pipeline” – a set of practices that ultimately push kids out of education toward the criminal justice system and eventually into prison. At CLOUT’s March 2010 Nehemiah Action, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell and the judges of the Jefferson County Juvenile Court committed their support to the implementation of a restorative justice approach in local juvenile courts. The resulting program, called “Restorative Justice Louisville,” uses “family group conferencing” to deal with select juvenile court cases that will hold the offender more accountable, allow for restitution, and avoid incarceration. Mr. O’Connell also committed to discontinue the practice of referring all school-related offenses to court.
As for JCPS, in response to CLOUT’s request, JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens and other top administrators, along with two school board members and the head of the local teacher’s union traveled with CLOUT leaders to visit a school in Baltimore, MD to observe the use of restorative practices there. Also at CLOUT’s request, Superintendent Hargens organized an all-day orientation in restorative practices for representatives from almost all 150 JCPS schools.
Then, in the 2014-2015 school year, in response to CLOUT’s ongoing work to move the JCPS from using primarily punitive and exclusionary methods of school discipline, 76 schools have been trained in the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which gives schools the tools to resolve discipline issues in the classroom, reducing suspension rates, referrals to alternative schools, and drop-outs. Also, in June 2014, the JCPS Board of Education approved a new Code of Conduct that contains more use of restorative practices