Students make mistakes, but what matters most to the DCIS learning community is how these mistakes are addressed so that they become learning opportunities.
DCIS resolves discipline problems using a cooperative and constructive restorative justice approach in order to reconnect students with their learning and ensure a high-quality learning environment for all students. A commitment to restorative justice forms the backbone of our school culture in which disciplinary infractions, bullying and inappropriate behaviors are addressed and quickly corrected.
With a restorative justice approach, the expectations surrounding all disciplinary issues are that the student (1) acknowledge and accept responsibility for the mistake, (2) apologize and make restitution to the parties affected by the mistake, and (3) do everything possible to make sure that a similar transgression does not happen again.
This approach — which is based on respect, responsibility, relationship-building and relationship-repairing — helps students learn to self-regulate, take ownership of their actions and grow from their mistakes. At DCIS our dean of culture, assistant principal, social worker and counselors support this process, building on their relationships with students.
While restorative justice provides the framework for how we approach disciplinary concerns, the Denver Public Schools (DPS) discipline policy guides decision-making regarding the severity of offenses and levels of intervention (discipline ladder).