Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Antonia Darder

Second Advisor

Rebecca Herr Stephenson

Third Advisor

Thalia Gonzalez


As restorative justice gained popularity in schools as a potential strategy for helping to reverse the deleterious effects of zero-tolerance policies, numerous misunderstandings and misapplications have emerged. This study focused on the experiences of school-based restorative justice practitioners and sought to foreground their voices and perspectives to highlight what is necessary for restorative justice work in schools to be effective. Critical narratives were used to elucidate participants’ perspectives and to allow their voices to serve as the focal point for the study. Findings were as follows: (a) the depth and ongoing nature of preparation practitioners undertake to sustain restorative justice work must be emphasized; (b) rather than a program or set of steps, restorative justice must be experienced as a set of principles or a philosophy grounded in genuine care and concern for individual people; (c) a cultural, political, and social shift is required for restorative justice to be implemented with integrity; and (d) restorative justice is a project of humanization and re-establishing democratic ideals. As such, educators in the field are encouraged to embrace the depth and complexity of the philosophical underpinnings of restorative justice and to acknowledge the personal, internal work that must be undertaken to serve a transformative function in school communities.

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