AN INVESTIGATION OF THE USE OF RESTORATIVE PRACTICES AMONG MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS AS A MEANS TO REDUCE DISPROPORTIONATE OFFICE DISCIPLINE REFERRALS FOR SUBJECTIVE OFFENSES FOR BLACK MALES IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
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In middle schools, Black males receive disproportionate numbers of office discipline referrals (ODRs) for the subjective offenses of disrespect, insubordination, and disruption. Black males are also more likely to receive excessively punitive and exclusionary school disciplinary action. Middle school teachers and administrators face many challenges as they are most often responsible for managing these subjective behaviors and for choosing disciplinary responses. Research indicates that implementing Restorative Practices in middle schools can decrease the number of subjective offenses and help to reduce the disproportion in ODRs. However, little research exists concerning the use of Restorative Practices within middle school settings across a district.This study evaluated Restorative Practices implementation in the classroom and school setting in one school district. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, the study examined the impact of the implementation of Restorative Practices on the number of and disproportion in ODRs for subjective offenses, and the selection by teachers and administrators of Restorative Practices as a first-choice option to address subjective offenses by 6th-8th grade Black and White males in two district middle schools. The study also examined teacher and administrator perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs regarding the district’s expectations for the implementation and use of Restorative Practices in schools. The analysis of the categories of disciplinary response options in unduplicated ODRs for the two middle schools showed a lack of similar response options for 6th-8th grade White and Black males and a lack of implementation of Restorative Practices in the schools. Furthermore, following the issuance of an ODR, the administrators’ decisions to impose out-of-school suspension only for Black males suggest both disparity by race and gender and a lack of equity in the decision process. The analysis of teacher and administrator perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs demonstrates support for Restorative Practices, but the analysis also shows limited implementation of Restorative Practices by teachers and administrators. This contradiction suggests the need for further research and evaluation of how schools implement Restorative Practices in order to increase teacher capacity and reduce the numbers of ODRs.