Reporting for EdSource, Susan Fray details Oakland Unified’s recent decision to eliminate the suspension category of willful defiance, making them the fourth major California school districts to remove the controversial category. Willful defiance suspensions make up a large number of the total suspensions in public schools and have disproportionately impacted Black and Latino students across the state. In addition to this disproportionate impact, willful defiance suspensions have been criticized for being a catch-all for a range of negative school based behaviors including not completing a homework assignment or talking back to a teacher.
In conjunction with this decision, Oakland Unified has pledged to invest $2.3 million dollars to fund restorative justice disciplinary alternatives throughout Oakland public schools. Commenting on the Board’s bold move, superintendent Antwan Wilson stated, “If we are to ensure that success for Oakland children is not determined by cultural background or neighborhood, it means that we must build strong relationships with our students at school and invest deeply in restorative practices. This is about re-integrating students into the classroom rather than excluding them from learning.”
To learn more about the restorative justice work underway throughout Oakland public schools, click here.