by Sharon Solorzano
Dear Superintendent Hutchings and Honorable School Board Members,
When I spoke before the School Board last April, I emphasized disturbing data regarding the high number of students who are suspended out of school in ACPS. We at Grassroots Alexandria also questioned the racial disparities and subjective reasons for suspensions. Tonight, I am here to ask for a renewed commitment to Restorative Practices. Grassroots Alexandria members have contacted or met with each of you, and we are convinced of your resolve to see RP emphasized in ACPS. We request a prioritization of RP in the ACPS 2025 Strategic Plan to reflect the ACPS value that “Every Student Succeeds.”
Grassroots Alexandria would like to see a renewed commitment to the basic tenets of Restorative Practices, which includes using Affirmative and Affective Language (please see the graphic for characteristics of high quality affective statements and language) and Community Building Circles. The RP Continuum reflects and encompasses ACPS priorities of providing an equitable education for all ACPS students.
A commitment to using affective language by all ACPS members is especially important and would be appreciated. Affective language involves active, non-judgmental listening and authentic expressions of feelings. When things go wrong, we use affective questions, including:
We would also like to see structural supports for Community Building Circles at the middle and high school levels. My students love Circles because they get to hear something new about each other during check-in, and a chance to connect and reset before getting into content. Today we used our Community Building Circle to welcome a new student and give him tips about our school.
We would like to know how the RP Liaison program is progressing. We would also like an updated plan on RP with outcomes, as we appreciate transparency, yet insist on accountability.
Thank you for your continued collaboration with the Alexandria NAACP, Tenants and Workers United and Grassroots Alexandria. As community partners, we look forward to furthering work with you toward equity and fairness for all students in ACPS.