UPDATE, February 27, 2014: The San Francisco Unified School District board voted Tuesday to join LAUSD in banning suspensions for "willful defiance" (see history and definitions in story below). As reported by Susan Frey in EdSource, "Students will still be held accountable for their behavior and, under the restorative justice approach to discipline, will have to make amends for their bad deeds. For example, if a student disrupts a class, he could apologize to his classmates and teacher and stay after school to help the teacher prepare for the next day."
The comments following Frey's article reflected skepticism on the issues of student accountability and the effectiveness of restorative justice. A sample:
*Regis: Isn’t the purpose of school, to prepare students for ...[that] unmentioned goal, of actually graduating and getting a job? How does that help the minorities, when they get a ‘free pass’ on their unruly behavior and it becomes a conditioned response? They can act up in the classroom, but how does that translate to the real world?
*Paul: What this means is that teachers in San Francisco will not have local authority to remove disruptive students from their classrooms at the time that disruptions occur. Specifically, there will be no local authority to send (“refer” is the usual term) students to the office during class time, for causing disruptions. Only other, more severe grounds enumerated in Ed. Code 48900 will remain. If the behavior falls short of violence, vandalism, drug use, sexual harassment, etc., the student gains an absolute local right to stay in the classroom....As you can see, the effects of this policy are chilling. Disruptive students will rule the roost, and other students will suffer. Teachers will have to put up with disruption as long as it lasts, and will only be able to take measures — flimsy, “restorative justice” ones, at that — after the class period or school day has ended.
*Don: ... Restorative practices are only as good as those that practice them. And in that regard, how much professional development was funded in conjunction with this ban to ensure the quality of the programs across the school district? …very little that I am aware. And there is no provision in the SFUSD Board resolution to provide it.