Anita Wadhwa, Seeding Restorative Justice in Houston schools

As a high school teacher in Houston, Texas, Anita Wadhwa became frustrated with discipline issues and concerned about students who were expelled and ultimately dropped out of school. Seeding Restorative Justice in Houston schools is a project Anita founded that offers a solution to the epidemic of suspensions.

School administrators suspend nearly three million students annually, contributing to a domino effect between suspension and incarceration-youth who are suspended repeatedly are more likely to get expelled, drop out and get arrested. Black males are especially prone to becoming a part of this school to prison pipeline, the phenomenon in which students who are repeatedly suspended and expelled have an increased likelihood of dropping out of school and ending up in the criminal justice system, and are three times as likely to be suspended as white students.

Restorative justice is a philosophy which states that when harm takes place it impacts an entire community, not just the individuals involved. This project uses restorative justice as an alternative to punitive practices by convening all participants affected by crime or conflict. Ideally, participants come to an agreement in order to repair the harm. Restorative justice is a participatory process, and rather than being bystanders in justice procedures, victims are able to have a voice to express what they need to make the situation right.

The Restorative Justice Collaborative of Houston is a diverse coalition of educators, students, researchers, academics, parents, clinicians, lawyers, and advocates who are committed to breaking the school to prison pipeline through creative, community driven models of justice.

To learn more about Seeding Restorative Justice in Houston schools, check out their Website, and Facebook page.

GRANT AWARD DATE: January 3, 2015