ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — School will soon be back in session. The Rochester Academy Charter School is taking a different approach on how it will discipline students this year. They’ll be rolling out restorative justice practices.
“That involves meeting with all the students, parents, community members involved, trying to figure out what needs to be done if anything and what the next steps are to get back to the environment that we had before the incident happened,” said Tyler Manchester, RACS High School Principal.
Manchester said their faculty and staff have been training all summer on the new method, which they say other schools have seen positive outcomes.
“There’s a lower instance of repeat behavior issues. The students generally can see it and feel the harm that was done and say I don’t want to do this to my community anymore,” said Manchester.
The district’s coordinator for restorative justice says they’re aim is to see suspension rates go down while increasing test scores and graduation rates.
“If something doesn’t work we come to a consensus quickly about it and then we move on it. because our number one goal is always what is best for our students. if we see something that’s not working we want to fix it we want to change it as quickly as possible,” said Sam Martina.
The recent data shows RACS had a higher graduation rate last year compared to Rochester City School District. RACS had 91 % graduation rate while RCSD had 54%. RACS also had significant higher passing rates on the regents exams.
School leaders said with this restorative justice approach, they hope students and parents will understand their building a culture of care. All aiming for academic and life success.
As part of RACS expansion this school year, they’re adding the second grade after recently received a five-year renewal. The renewal allowed them to add K-1st grade last year and hired additional faculty and staff.
Educators say they provide a different learning approach in the end students can achieve academic success. They credit their results to smaller classroom sizes where teachers can narrow in on each student needs to get them up to speed.