According to the Health Impact Assessment report, the restorative justice method can reduce school suspensions by 20 percent to 40 percent in Merced. If it were to be adopted countywide and implemented properly, researchers estimate that 3,400 fewer students would be suspended.

Suspensions in the county totaled 8,500 in the 2012-13 school year....

A panel of students who have participated in restorative justice training shared their thoughts on the new model during Tuesday’s presentation.

Esaiah Villalobos, a senior at Le Grand High School, said that through restorative practice he has learned that fighting isn't always the answer and that words can be more effective in getting a point across.

“I like that we get to talk about our problems and actually be heard,” Villalobos said. “In a normal school, we would get kicked out of class, but here we get to talk it out.”

Villalobos sees the positive impact conflict-resolution methods are having among his peers. “I've seen students with a beef in first period shake hands by the end of the day … so you do see a difference,” he added....

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