Santa Barbara Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Frann Wageneck

Paul Wellman

Santa Barbara Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Frann Wageneck

Schools Embrace Restorative Discipline

Conflict Resolution Method Slowly Replacing Zero-Tolerance Traditions

Sharpening its technique for promptly getting disruptive students back into the classroom is just one aspect of Santa Barbara Unified School District’s goal this fall to improve on its restorative approaches (RA) policy on conflict resolution. Slowly rolled out district-wide over the past four years, RA has replaced zero-tolerance ​— ​“just send ’em to the principal’s office” ​— ​traditions criticized primarily because they often remove kids long-term or even permanently from classrooms, which is counterintuitive in an educational setting, explained Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Dr. Frann Wageneck at a recent Board of Education meeting.

Under the RA philosophy, each student is part of the greater campus community, all of whom, including teachers and administrators, are coached to take responsibility for their actions and deploy empathy for their counterparts during and after conflict. In that respect, recent feedback from 240 students, teachers, and staff at 10 school sites found that students, in particular, don’t want to be singled out in front of their classmates if and when trouble surfaces. Such focus, they contended, was akin to shaming and does not encourage the development of the adult-student and peer-to-peer relationships that RA aims to foster. Overall, said board President Kate Parker, “It’s really been moving forward in a positive way.”

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Pair of F-22s Buzz Santa Barbara City College

Turbulence rattles windows and nerves on Monday morning.

Mandatory Evacuation Called for Fire Zones in Santa Barbara County

Heavy rains expected Tuesday-Thursday; debris flows feared.

Cannabis Farmer Gets Over $1 Million Insurance Payout

Thomas Fire ash destroys crop; analysis finds asbestos, lead, arsenic, and magnesium.

Next Debris Flow Could Take Different, Unknown Path

"I've never seen this degree of hazard," says Cal Fire scientist.

Biggest Storm Since 1/9 Approaching Santa Barbara

The storm system brings increased threat of flash floods and debris flows.