Don Buchheit, interim assistant superintendent with the county’s Board of Education, said suspensions and expulsions have declined throughout San Diego County because schools are turning to restorative justice practices that promote respect, taking responsibility and strengthening relationships.

“We try to make a wrong right, and restore relationships and keep students in school,” Buchheit said.

Restorative justice practices can include holding conferences where students, educators, therapists and sometimes family members talk about developing appropriate consequences for bad behavior. Billed as a more compassionate approach to discipline, it gives educators more flexibility when deciding how to reprimand students who act out and break rules....

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