SAN FRANCISCO – Parents, teachers and students at Monroe Elementary School are protesting student discipline procedures because they contend administrators refuse to remove unruly students from the classroom.
The backlash against San Francisco Unified School District’s relatively new approach to student discipline mirrors complaints from teachers and parents in other districts across the country with similar “restorative justice” procedures in recent years, EAGnews reports.
Like many school districts, San Francisco adopted a “Safe and Supportive Schools Policy” in 2014 that discourages student suspensions in favor of “restorative justice” reprimands that involve talking circles and student-designed punishments. The intent is to keep students, particularly minority students who are suspended far more than white students, in school where they can continue to learn, rather than send them home to miss a day of school.
Teachers are typically expected to exhaust all options to keep students in class, and many have complained of increased violence from students who understand there is little consequence for their actions.
The “restorative justice” approach is based on the “white privilege” theory – that America is hopelessly stacked against minorities – that’s promoted by the Pacific Educational Group in teacher training workshops in hundreds of schools. The approach is also promoted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department through directives to metropolitan school districts to reduce the disproportionate number of suspensions for minority students.
“Students have been choked, they’ve been slapped, they have been given death threats almost daily,” Monroe Elementary parent Louella Hill told ABC 7 of the impact the new discipline policy.
— Lyanne Melendez (@LyanneMelendez) May 24, 2016
The persistent problems with one first grade student at the school convinced teacher Erika Keil to complain to the principal, who opted not to renew the probationary teacher’s contract for next school year. The move sparked outrage from dozens of parents and teachers who descended on the school Tuesday to protest the principal’s decision.
The protesters toted picket signs reading “Advocating for student safety will cost you your job” and “Kick me, I’m a SFUSD teacher,” among others.
“To me, she did a fantastic job dealing with a difficult situation,” Keil’s colleague, Kathy Harriman, told ABC 7.
Teachers union and district officials, however, are standing firm in their support of the “restorative justice” discipline model.
“The policy is something we believe in, that kids should be in the school,” Lita Blanc, spokeswoman for Educators of San Francisco, told the news site.
SFUSD officials issued a statement pointing to “resources” available to teachers to help control violent students who must remain in the classroom, “including 1:1 student aids, instructional coaches and behavioral specialists.”
SFUSD board president Matt Haney told ABC 7 the school board could reverse the principal’s decision to dismiss Keil, but admitted that was unlikely.
Monroe students, parents and teachers, plan to continue to protest until Keil is reinstated.
The violent first-grader, meanwhile, remains in the classroom to torment his classmates, parents told the news site.
“That student has remained in the classroom without proper support,” Hill said.