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  • Restorative justice funding could be cut by more than half as fiscal cliff nears

    May 15, 2024

    (Alex Zimmerman / Chalkbeat)

    Chalkbeat NY | Restorative justice initiatives, which prioritize peer mediation and other forms of conflict resolution, have been a key alternative to more punitive forms of discipline, advocates say. If the funding evaporates, they worry schools will increasingly respond to student misbehavior by removing students from their classrooms.

    Those programs allow “students to resolve conflicts on their own and it keeps them within the school community,” said Naphtali Moore, a staff attorney at the school justice project at Advocates for Children, a group that has pushed to find new sources of funding for programs that received one-time federal dollars. “You’re also building relationships as well.”

    The possible budget cuts come at a precarious moment: Concerns about student behavior have intensified in the wake of the pandemic, and suspension rates are on the rise, returning to pre-pandemic levels last school year. Education Department officials have not released suspension data for the first half of this school year, despite a city law requiring they do so by the end of March and several requests from Chalkbeat for the statistics.