Restorative Justice

Randolph Academy is WNY’s expert in Restorative Justice, an alternative to punishment-based school discipline which has been consistently shown to be ineffective.

Traditionally, when students misbehave or fail to meet expectations, a negative consequence is applied, such as detention or suspension. For students who struggle socially, emotionally, or academically, this may happen frequently — and those students might begin to develop negative attitudes, about either themselves or their school. Alternatively, Restorative Justice focuses on positive restoration rather than negative consequences.

restorative training circle

What is Restorative Justice?

It is a sociological model that focuses on building relationships and community. When things go wrong, the members of the school community find resolution and healing through restorative practices.

When used proactively, it builds relationships, a positive climate and a culture of care. When used responsively following any instance of wrongdoing, it brings those who caused the harm together with those who were affected, so that they can understand the impact of their actions, and decide together what can be done to repair that harm.

It pairs with the concept known as Normative Culture , a way of behaving rather than a system of rules, using positive peer pressure to create shared expectations and constructive behavior.

At Randolph Academy, we use “Circles” to establish and maintain this caring, supportive environment.

Restorative Justice Experts

Randolph Academy’s administrators and teachers are well-known Restorative Justice experts. Our Superintendent, Lori DeCarlo, is the lead facilitator for New York’s Restorative Justice training initiatives statewide. She also co-chairs the Western New York Youth Justice Team, partnering with Erie County’s Commissioner of Probation and funded by New York State’s Criminal Justice Services.

Our teachers are also experts who train others. We host workshops and learning labs on our campuses that draw dozens of educators from hundreds of miles away, across the state. We also travel to other districts in Western New York to help them learn about and even implement restorative practices.

Would you like to have Randolph Academy help your team in learning about and implementing Restorative Justice into your school or district? Contact our team at rjtraining@randolphacademy.org. We train teachers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education administrators, CSE chairs, principals and superintendents!

Our students and staff engage regularly in relationship building, conflict resolution and creative alternatives to traditional discipline. For example, after one of our students became extremely frustrated by a peer, he chose to exhibit hostile behavior and proceeded to damage school property. We were able to bring both students, their parents, and their teacher together to come up with a plan to repair the harm. We gained insights into both students’ behaviors, as well as the underlying causes of each. Ultimately, both students decided to work together to clean the classroom during their lunch period — and they actually developed a friendship and long-term bond following this incident


–          Laura Heeter, Randolph Academy Restorative Justice Coordinator