Restorative Practices in Schools, Los Angeles, CA
Ayesha Brooks, born and raised in the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles, experienced many of the challenges that face urban youth, and thus she has used her compassion, ability, and training in the service of her community and others like it for over twenty-five years. Her commitment to working with all members of a community to build better relationships and change the culture and climate of her schools in positive ways led her to become involved with restorative practices as the most effective way to achieve her goals. Since receiving her MS degree from the International Institute of Restorative Practices she has pioneered the use of restorative practices first in Watts and Compton and then in the Fontana Unified School District.
While serving on the LAUSD’s Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Task Force, she co-drafted the School Climate Bill of Rights and worked to set district-wide student discipline policies and procedures. Additionally, while acting as Restorative Justice Coordinator and the PBIS Coordinator at Markham Middle School, she was able to succeed with a diverse student population that needed a multi-tiered approach to discipline, including support of the social and emotional growth of her students and the development of effective communication rather than suspension and expulsion and addressed the school-to-prison issue at its root. The number of suspensions at Markham dropped 50% under her guidance, side-by-side with a dramatic improvement in school climate. Similarly, her work with Truman Middle School resulted in the reduction of suspensions by 71%. When she extended her field to the Fontana School District as Coordinator of Climate and Culture, she was the only person trained in restorative practices; there are now over 100 trained practitioners. Ms. Brooks facilitates, co-facilitates, coaches, observes and provides feedback for everyone trained in her district, ensuring the continuation and spread of restorative practices.