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Parents voice concerns over timeline of ‘restorative practices’ plan in Pinellas schools

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas County School district is less than two years into a four-year plan to implement a restorative practices program in every school in the county.

It’s a plan that changes the culture within a school when dealing with students in disciplinary scenarios. The restorative practices program empowers students and teachers to work together to resolve situations.

But some parents say four years to implement a program such as this is too long. Others believe some teachers or other administrators are not on board.

Chris Harris says her son is a prime example of a student that’s being lost in the transition.

“I got a call from the school on my way over here, my 9-year-old is standing in the hallway. And the person who is supposed to be the restorative practice person, he wouldn’t even talk to me over the phone,” said Harris. “Well, I don’t know what was going on. He was talking. “

Harris is a member of FAST, which stands for Faith and Action for Strength Together. She and about two dozen others attended a school board meeting on Tuesday morning to voice their concerns.

Janice Metz is a former school principal.

“The stakes are very high in order to be successful. We have to have a culture in our school that works for all of our youngsters,” Metz told the school board members. “I was very happy today to get some information about restorative practices and how it’s working in the schools. I think there have been misconceptions on both sides.”

READ: Pinellas County Schools bullying policy

FAST members were hoping to convince school board members that implementing “restorative practices” in 10 schools right away versus every school over a four year period might be a better option.

But Bob Poth, one of the district’s area superintendents, disagrees.

“The pilot model of 10 schools when we have 120 schools – even if we added 10 every year would take us 12 years to begin that process,” said Poth. “And we believe we had a plan and an implementation plan using the same expert and process that they were asking us to use.”

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