Our School Dispute Resolution Programs
We offer a variety of School Dispute Resolution programs that target places where we can have the most impact. These programs have served as part of our greatest focus and growth for the last several years. Click here to download our School Conflict Resolution Programs brochure.
The Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center, also known as the Wayne Mediation Center, has provided conflict resolution services to more than thirty-five schools throughout Wayne County in the past few years. WCDRC’s school conflict resolution specialists generally have extensive experience with children and/or dispute resolution methods, and all have taken extensive advanced training in the specific conflict resolution program being delivered. Most also have taken the forty-hour Michigan State Court Administrative Office approved mediation training and all have undergone state background checks.
A student was about to explode. His high school friends had all turned against him, and everyone at his new school could tell that he was enraged. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of a number of adults at school, he refused to talk to anyone about his frustration, and was seriously contemplating violence against one of his “former” friends, whom he felt was responsible for spreading lies about him to others.
Luckily, the school nurse knew to direct him to the Restorative Practices facilitator who was assigned by the Wayne County Dispute Resolution Center to his school. Her job is to conduct a “conference” between students whenever conflict arises at the school. As a specially trained and neutral outside facilitator, who is not associated or employed by the school, she is uniquely able to get students to trust and open up to her.
Read a Success Story here.
Purpose: Increase school safety, reduce student suspensions and conflict, improve school climate.
Impact: Participants determine how to repair harm caused by the act of one or more students.
Restorative conferencing provides a model to consider past actions, consequences and to change future behavior. It can also be used to reduce suspensions for fighting or other harmful behavior, thereby improving students’ chances of graduation.
How it works: A WCDRC facilitator is provided a location in the school for between 15 and 30 hours per week. Whenever a dispute arises, the facilitator is notified and engages with all of the parties affected. The facilitator then oversees a process focused upon repairing the harm resulting from the behavior, including appropriate consequences. In the great majority of cases, an agreement is reached and a written behavior plan results and is provided to the school. The facilitator later follows up with the participants to ensure that the agreement is followed.
Community Building/Mentorship Circles
Purpose: Provide a sense of community, security, and belonging to struggling students.
Impact: Improves school culture by reducing conflict and disruptive behavior, providing opportunity for students needing mentorship to meet in a safe, consistent, and supportive environment. Students participating report improved attendance, increased general interest in school and better grades.
How it works: For each Circle, the school selects six to eight male or female students who are facing particular issues (e.g., bullying, anger, diversity, LGBT) or generally struggling. A facilitator meets with the students together once per week for an hour for the entire school year. The facilitator guides the discussion about topics that are important to members of the group and especially focus upon future goals, values and behavior. The focus is upon the group becoming a small community and part of an improved larger school community.
Special Education Mediation, Facilitation and Informational Presentations
Purpose: At no cost, improve understanding with parents and effectively resolve issues involving special education students.
Impact: School districts save precious time and resources by forming better relationships and agreements with parents, avoiding contested hearings and lawsuits.
How it works: Schools or parents of special education students contact WCDRC to request a presentation, IEP facilitation or a mediation of a special education issue. At no cost to the school, WCDRC schedules and provides a specially trained mediator or facilitator to meet the request.
For mediations and facilitations, a WCDRC specialist works collaboratively with parents or guardians of a student with a disability and a representative of the school district to reach mutually agreed upon solutions. By asking questions and discussing all information with both parties, the mediator helps the parent(s) and the school district representative resolve disagreements, reach a more complete understanding of each other’s concerns and agree upon the special education program for the student in a cooperative and timely manner.
Truancy Prevention Mediation
Purpose: Improve school attendance.
Impact: Truancy Prevention Mediation has proven very effective in reducing the critical problem of unexcused absences that frequently signal the first step along the path to students dropping out and failing to graduate. In past years, students participating in this program have shown a 55-75% rate of improvement in their attendance.
How it works: The school provides a list of students to WCDRC that have truancy issues. WCDRC contacts the student’s parents and schedules mediations at the school at a date and time selected by the school. The mediator meets with the student, parent(s) or guardian and the school representative(s) to determine the real impediments to attendance, and in most cases, a mutual agreement is reached to resolve the attendance issues. Sometimes this requires additional services being introduced to the families. The mediator follows up with the school and student to ensure that the agreement is working. This program requires a strong commitment by the school to improve attendance.
Click here to view School Based Training.