The Roaring Fork Schools are safe and welcoming places for all. See the resources below for more information on specific topics.
PLEASE NOTE: All Parents’ Emergency Messenger Contact Preferences Have Been Reset
Roaring Fork Schools use Infinite Campus, a web-based student information system, to communicate with parents regarding emergency situations. To ensure that parents receive critical information during an emergency, closure, or other urgent situation, all parents’ emergency message contact preferences have been reset default to sending parents a text, phone call, and email in the event of an emergency. (Please note that your preferences for receiving non-emergency notifications will not be reset.)
After emergency communications go out, we always hear from families who did not receive the message because of how their communication preferences are set. For instance, we received such feedback from families after the snow day message went out last month. Because emergency messages are of the utmost importance, we are doing a one-time reset to make sure parents are opted in to receive messages through all channels.
Even with this resetting, parents will only receive these notifications if an accurate phone number and email address are listed in the Parent Portal account. At both the district and school level, we use the most recent contact information provided and the preferences selected by parents during the student enrollment process. It is very important that parents and guardians maintain accurate contact information at all times to ensure that you receive information--especially emergency communications.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to parents.
To change your contact settings for emergency notifications, see the instructions here.
Our Job is to Educate, Not Punish
Why do we think that punitive approaches to discipline will work? Consider this conundrum posed by Tom Herner about the role of an educator:
If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach. If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we... teach? …punish? Why can’t we finish the last sentence as automatically as we do the others?
That contradiction is hard for most of us to reconcile, and we are not yet on the same page when it comes to how schools should discipline children. More traditional, punitive approaches to school discipline are meant to punish undesirable behavior and discourage future misbehavior. Relatively new restorative practices focus, instead, on repairing harm, developing empathy, and reintegrating students back into the classroom and school.
As a society, we have been responding to inappropriate behavior with punishment for centuries. “Eye for an eye” is embedded in our biblical traditions. While penalties, for the most part, have softened over the centuries, infractions and punitive responses continue to belong together like “Crime and Punishment.” Punishment is reflexive, but is it effective?
Punitive practices include inappropriate use of suspension and expulsion, zero tolerance policies, and corporal punishment. In Colorado and across the nation, young students in kindergarten through second grade, especially special education and disabled students, are suspended and expelled in an attempt to deal with inappropriate behavior. A Chalkbeat analysis from May 2018 found that over 6,000 K-2 students in Colorado received out-of-school suspensions last year. A Colorado bill to curb the practice of suspending and expelling these young students failed last spring.
Still commonly used in schools, zero tolerance policies--the application of mandatory penalties to specific infractions--have not resulted in the expected outcomes. A 2016 report from American Public Media entitled “Spare the Rod” detailed research showing that zero tolerance policies don’t make schools safer and are disproportionately applied to minority students. These practices were intended to result in fairer discipline for all but actually resulted in a wider racial discipline gap. Today, a black child is four times as likely and a Latino student is twice as likely as other students to be suspended.
Furthermore, these practices often have long-term repercussions. For instance, those who are suspended or expelled are less likely to graduate and more likely to wind up in the juvenile corrections system. In 2014, the federal government got involved by issuing a statement that districts that continue to have disproportionate discipline rates would face federal civil rights action. Further proving we’re not on the same page, just last week the federal government made a move to roll this back.
Though relatively new, restorative discipline represents an alternative approach to managing behavior and responding to conflict. It is already showing promising results, including reduced problem behavior over time, improved attendance, and enhanced student social-emotional growth and development. Restorative discipline is based on fostering relationships, strengthening understanding, repairing harm, and building strong communities. In other words, rather than responding retributively, restorative practices aim to teach students how to behave and how to repair when harm is done.
Restorative discipline begins before the moment when an infraction takes place. It requires building a classroom and school culture where relationships are at a premium, and where the development of positive social skills is emphasized. It requires establishing explicit behavioral expectations and teaching students what they are. Restorative discipline differs from traditional practices in that it increases accountability for offenders to understand the harm they have caused and take responsibility for their actions.
Restorative justice, from which restorative discipline evolved, grew out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa to try to repair relationships and restore society after the fall of apartheid. This framework was first used by criminal justice systems and has been adapted for schools over the last couple decades. The Roaring Fork Schools have begun to implement restorative practices. That doesn’t mean that there are no longer consequences to student behavior and actions. It means that we apply different and additional strategies to support a student before utilizing more traditional consequences.
This is a major shift in how we handle conflict and challenging behaviors. Like all change, we know it will take time for students, staff, and parents to adjust. But if we want our students to feel a sense of belonging in our schools, we need to make sure that we are teaching and supporting each other and not isolating or casting out students who may be struggling. Just like students can learn new responses to deal with their frustrations and challenges instead of acting out, as a culture, we can learn a better way of responding to challenging behavior.
Key facts about student surveys:
We use a research-based survey developed by experts to gather feedback on teachers regarding pedagogical effectiveness, classroom environment, expectations and rigor, student engagement, and supportive relationships; and on the school regarding grit, health & wellness, school belonging, school learning strategies, valuing of school, and CREW.
The surveys are short, the questions are age-appropriate, and the feedback is anonymous.
Surveys are not used as a formal part of teacher evaluation, but rather to identify bright spots and areas for growth.
Survey results will be reviewed at the school and district level as well to determine topics for professional development and support.
2018 School Survey Results
- Basalt Elementary
- Crystal River Elementary
- Glenwood Springs Elementary
- Sopris Elementary
- Riverview School (G3-5 and G6-8)
- Basalt Middle
- Carbondale Middle
- Glenwood Springs Middle
- Basalt High
- Bridges High
- Roaring Fork High
- Glenwood Springs High
What are Restorative Practices in schools?
“Restorative Practices in Schools is philosophically based in fostering relationships, strengthening understanding, repairing harm, and building strong communities. Identifying and addressing the needs and harms that occur when there is conflict in the school community by cultivating empathy and modeling conflict resolution skills serves students and adults alike. Restorative Practices, when practiced with fidelity, create a safe space for connection and dialogue. When facilitated by trained practitioners, Restorative Practices lead to a more equitable and inclusive environment for students, staff, families, and community members. The variety of practices or models used in applying this philosophy have been developed and honed by indigenous peoples and religious groups for centuries. They have been further developed and implemented around the world by academics, governments, schools, communities and practitioners for decades. Restorative Practices in Schools assist in building a school culture of relationship and respect. At the core, Restorative Practices are built on what are known as the 5 R’s: Relationship, Respect, Responsibility, Repair, and Reintegration.” from Restorative Justice Colorado
Benefits of Restorative Approaches in the School Setting
- A safer, more caring environment.
- A more effective teaching and learning environment.
- A greater commitment by everyone to taking the time to listen to one another.
- A reduction in bullying and other interpersonal conflicts.
- A greater awareness of the importance of connectedness to young people. The need to belong and feel valued by peers and significant adults.
- Greater emphasis on responses to inappropriate behavior that seeks to reconnect and not further disconnect young people.
- Reductions in fixed term and permanent suspensions and expulsions.
- A greater confidence in the staff team to deal with challenging situations.
The 5 R’s of Restorative Practice by Beverly B. Title, Ph.D.
- Relationship: Restorative practices recognize that when a wrong occurs, individuals and communities feel violated. It is the damage to these relationships that is primarily important and is the central focus of what restorative practices seek to address. When relationships are strong, people experience more fulfilling lives, and communities become places where we want to live. Relationships may be mended through the willingness to be accountable for one’s actions and to make repair of harms done.
- Respect: Respect is the key ingredient that holds the container for all restorative practices, and it is what keeps the process safe. It is essential that all persons in a restorative process be treated with respect. One way we acknowledge respect is that participation in a restorative process is always optional. Every person is expected to show respect for others and for themselves. Restorative processes require deep listening, done in a way that does not presume we know what the speaker is going to say, but that we honor the importance of the other’s point of view. Our focus for listening is to understand other people, so, even if we disagree with their thinking, we can be respectful and try hard to comprehend how it seems to them.
- Responsibility: For restorative practices to be effective, personal responsibility must be taken. Each person needs to take responsibility for any harm that was caused to another, admitting any wrong that was done, even if it was unintentional. Taking responsibility also includes a willingness to give an explanation of the harmful behavior. All persons in the circle are asked to search deeply in their hearts and minds to discover if there is any part of the matter at hand for which they have some responsibility. Everyone needs to be willing to accept responsibility for his or her own behavior and the impacts it has on other individuals and the community as a whole.
- Repair: The restorative approach is to repair the harm that was done, and the underlying causes, to the fullest extent possible, recognizing that harm may extend beyond anyone’s capacity for repair. Once the persons involved have accepted responsibility for their behavior and they have heard in the restorative process about how others were harmed by their action, they are expected to make repair. This allows us to set aside thoughts of revenge and punishment. It is essential that all stakeholders in the event be involved in identifying the harm and having a voice in how it will be repaired. It is through taking responsibility for one’s own behavior and making repair that persons may regain or strengthen their self-respect and the respect of others.
- Reintegration: For the restorative process to be complete, persons who may have felt alienated must be accepted into the community. Reintegration is realized when all persons have put the hurt behind them and moved into a new role in the community. This new role recognizes their worth and the importance of the new learning that has been accomplished. The person having shown him or herself to be an honorable person through acceptance of responsibility and repair of harm has transformed the hurtful act. At the reintegration point, all parties are back in right relationship with each other and with the community. This reintegration process is the final step in achieving wholeness.