"Peace circles" a positive alternative to traditional discipline at one Holt school

By Aundreana Jones-Poole
Holt Journal Staff Reporter

Are out-of-school suspensions an effective way of handling adolescent misbehavior, or is there a better alternative? The Restorative Justice Initiative is a non-profit program that was developed by the Resolution Services Center of Central Michigan and serves local school districts by helping students with conflict resolution and preventative tools. The program was founded in 2004 in Lansing, and currently serves multiple schools in different districts, including Hope Middle School in Holt.

“It is not uncommon that districts will have restorative practice programs,” said Greta Trice, Executive Director at the Resolutions Service Center. “Holt has a facilitator that we train and monitor at the school.”

The program aims to bring people, both victim and offender, together and teach them how to handle and resolve their conflicts. The program uses effective conferencing and “peace circles” — which brings together victims and offenders to give the offender a deeper understanding of the consequences and the victim’s own humanity — to solve conflicts and reduce the number of days students are suspended from school.