That's So SA
That's So SA

Restorative Justice and Honor at SA

The Honor Code, developed collaboratively by a team of students and staffulty in 2013-14, is at the heart of our school culture. Based on principles of respect, honesty, and personal responsibility, the Honor Code is more than a list of rules; it is a collection of vivid examples like “honor is saying your internet was broken only when your internet was actually broken” or “honor is a take-home physics test.” Implicit in our Honor Code is the expectation that we follow these rules as a way to take care of one another and maintain a connected community. 

Of course, in any community, rules are going to get broken and mistakes are going to be made. With that in mind, our Honor Deans ( Dean of Student Life Darren Duarte, Humanities teacher Drew Gloger, and STEM teacher Cassidy Brown) have developed a new way to handle consequences when students break the Honor Code, based on Restorative Justice.

Restorative justice practices put community and relationships at the center of disciplinary action. The core goal of a restorative justice process is to address the harm caused to relationships, and to move to mend those relationships in a way that is meaningful to the wronged parties and to the offender as well. After a successful restorative justice process, the community will be strengthened and all parties will be able to move forward in partnership together. 

This year, disciplinary proceedings will combine restorative justice practices with a more traditional disciplinary approach, based on each individual situation. If it is appropriate, students will be asked to take part in a restorative justice conference with the wronged party/parties to problem solve and discuss how the rule-breaking event affected everyone involved. Advisors, teachers, students, and/or staff members might all be invited to a restorative conference depending on the nature of the infraction. When harm is done to the broader community, it may be appropriate to invite student Honor Representatives to the conference to represent their peers. All restorative conferences are confidential.

In a restorative conference, those who have caused harm and affected parties are asked questions such as:
From your perspective, what happened?
What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
Who do you think has been impacted by what you did? In what ways?
How do you feel about your actions when you look back at the event now?
What do you believe needs to happen now to make things right?

Responses to these questions will guide the participants to a series of final agreements, which will be documented and approved by the Honor Deans and Dean of Student Life. In addition to this set of agreements, the Honor Deans and Dean of Student Life will decide if more formal disciplinary action is appropriate, depending on the infraction. 

The theory behind restorative justice is that rule-breaking creates distance within communities, and that the best way to close those distances is to address the effects rule-breaking has on everyone involved. As a school that deeply values connected community and close, trusting relationships, it makes sense for us to adopt this approach. Mistakes are a part of growing up, and learning meaningful lessons from those mistakes is how we truly grow. As we bring restorative justice practices into our disciplinary procedures, our hope is that students will grow as community members and responsible individuals who understand how their actions affect others. 
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2500 Farmers Lane 
Santa Rosa, CA 95404 
(707) 545-1770 
inbox@sonomaacademy.org
 

Sonoma Academy Is...

...the only private, independent, college preparatory high school in Sonoma County. On our beautiful campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain in Southeastern Santa Rosa, our students are able to explore their interests and passions in a rigorous and inspiring environment that develops a lifelong love of learning and prepares them for college and beyond.

Sonoma Academy admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.