While both students and teachers have commented that there seems to be a recent increase in troubling activity around the school, security guards at Galileo feel there has been an overall increase in this behavior by students after the district changed the discipline policy to the restorative justice practice several years ago. The security guards have noticed more students cutting class, stealing and being disrespectful to the Galileo staff. They feel that students are more willing to act out improperly because the restorative justice consequences are not effective.
Speaking as a group, 3 Galileo security guards feel that the restorative justice process takes away the ability to discipline students for unsuitable actions. They mention, “There are not consequences or repercussions for the things being done. If there is no punishment then that is the root of the cause. There are hardly any more suspensions and this helps create a climate that is volatile. Teachers and staff feel they have no authority, and it’s too lenient.”
The process for restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done by people as opposed to just penalizing them. This enables each person to share their side of the story and apologize for their actions. This method gives the students space to take ownership of their actions and see how their actions affect a school community. The restorative justice meetings are confidential between the students, parents, administration and an SRO (Student Resource Officer).
The Galileo administration is not being inactive though, but is doing their best to make sure the entire school is safe. However, they also emphasize that everyone at Galileo needs to help out. Principal Ms. Benau says, “ The school is aware of the violence, but are trying our best to identify the root of the cause. We all need to come together more and support each other. Students must come to me with concerns and notify administrators when there is a fight about to occur. I believes that everyone needs the same positive mindset in regards to keeping the school community safe.”
Assistant Principal, Ms. Arkin wants to make it clear that the administration is trying to connect with parents and students to hear what may have led to these conflicts. She is aware that many students are emotional and are learning about how to process what is happening around them socially and emotionally. She says,”diversity, culture, and community have a big impact on the school dynamics and some students feel defensive and react negatively to protect themselves. It is tough for the new administration to connect with students, gaining their trust takes time.”
Teachers have recognized that the school does have its issues, but also point out that they believe things are trying to be done about it. English teacher Ms. Moffett says, “It does seem like there has been an increase in more bad behavior at Galileo. But I also think we are getting better in the right direction of trying to make the school safer. The cameras are working now and there’s also been training for teachers [to make the school safer].”
While the staff believes the school is turning the corner, students, particularly seniors, have noticed changes in student’s behavior. One senior says, “I don’t feel like the school is safe because there is a lot of anger and i feel like I have to be more cautious.” Another senior says, “the school had become worse, but the administration has become more strict”.