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Respect and a voice for everyone in the school community: Restorative practices for PPS

Respect and a voice for everyone in the school community: Restorative practices for all Pittsburgh Public Schools - IIRP Graduate School

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) brought the IIRP’s SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change Program to 22 schools, from 2014 to 2017, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Comprehensive School Safety Initiative. The RAND Corporation has been studying the project — a randomized controlled trial of restorative practices implementation — and will be producing a final report in spring 2018. Meanwhile, PPS has announced it is making a commitment to continuing the use of restorative practices in the 22 schools, as well as expanding their use to all district schools over the next two school years.

“Restorative practices provide a structure that builds community among students and staff and provides a way for students to restore themselves to the community following misconduct,” explains PPS Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

Christine Cray, PPS Director of Student Services Reforms, adds, “There’s a moral imperative to follow best practice. If you find something that works, you have to do it.”

At the 23rd IIRP World Conference, Learning in the 21st Century: A Restorative Vision, a panel including Cray, RAND Research Programmer Geoffrey Grimm, IIRP Director of Continuing Education Keith Hickman and Pittsburgh Langley K-8 Principal Rodney Necciai, Ed.D., will share preliminary survey findings of the data collected by the IIRP during the two-year implementation.


The intention of the RAND research has been to provide learning around how to improve whole-school implementation. One element that separates the IIRP’s SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change Program from other restorative practices training models is the emphasis on creating professional learning groups (PLGs) among school staff and administration to foster adult learning and peer support within each building. During the panel, the speakers will restrict their discussion to the implications of the school survey data, not to the broader observations and data collected by RAND for its final report.

“Our reading of the school surveys we conducted shows that the PLGs helped to build staff community and understanding around restorative practices,” says IIRP Director of Continuing Education Keith Hickman. “More than 40 percent of staff reported engaging in proactive circles, impromptu conferences, affective statements and restorative questions with students as part of their normal routine. This is encouraging, as I believe that over time more staff will see restorative practices as central to the climate and culture of their schools.”

Cray adds she is hopeful that RAND's study will demonstrate restorative practices’ potential for eroding discipline disparities that exist between diverse student populations, and for providing academic benefits and increased attendance for students and teachers. “Students, parents and teachers are happier and healthier when they have a place and space for their voices to be heard,” she says.

Read more at the International Institute for Restorative Practices, Respect and a voice for everyone in the school community: Restorative practices for all Pittsburgh Public Schools