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New Approach To Discipline At San Diego Unified Proven Successful

San Diego Unified School District has seen a drop in expulsions since it implemented a discipline program that uses restorative justice.

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The newly-formed Office of Youth Advocacy presented plans to the San Diego Unified School District's board this week. The office, which advocates for marginalized and at-risk student groups, is part of a new approach to discipline at the district.

A method called Restorative Justice has been in place for only a year, but administrators said it's reduced the number of expulsions by 60 percent. The number of drug-related calls have also been reduced.

Vernon Moore, executive director of youth advocacy at the district, said the approach encourages "collaborative meetings" between students and administrators to address the root of the problem.

"Restorative justice is really part of a larger effort of really engaging our students, our faculty members, our staff members, our community members, in an effort to open up," Moore told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. "(It's an) effort to bring voices to the table."

Moore said the meetings focused on answering questions like what harm was done by a student's particular action and how can the student or school move on from there.

"The key is to open the dialogue and continue that connection with the students and we're using the restorative (justice) for that," Moore said.

Moore said the Office of Youth Advocacy will be further built to ensure campuses are equitable.

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