DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Attorney General Dana Nessel paid a visit to the Crestwood School District on Tuesday to learn about its approach to restorative practices in the district.
Last year, Nessel announced a restorative practices initiative in order to address racial disparities in school discipline.
At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, the Crestwood School District launched an initiative to focus on the social and emotional health of students as they returned to the classroom mid-pandemic and Nessel visited Riverside Middle School to learn about the training the district’s employees have undergone to utilize these practices effectively.
Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam said that the efforts are all a part of the process.
“Social and emotional learning is something new to most people,” he said. “We’ve always focused and been told to focus on literacy and numeracy, but we understand that students face other situations in their lives that may make learning literacy and numeracy harder for them.”
Nessel said that she appreciates the efforts of the district.
“I appreciate Dr. Mosallam’s hospitality today and applaud the innovative ways the district is prioritizing the social and emotional wellness of its students,” she said. “Educators across the state are implementing restorative practices and it’s important we recognize the success of those efforts. I look forward to visiting more schools that are focused on this approach to education.”
As part of the initiative, Nessel led a coalition of 23 attorneys general in May 2021 which urged the Department of Education and Department of Justice to reissue a guidance package previously withdrawn in 2018 and address the disparate use of discipline against students based on their sex, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
“It was an honor to have Attorney General Dana Nessel in our schools,” Mosallam said. “She’s very receptive to ideas and conversations and she had conversations with students and staff. The staff were enamored by her and you could tell they were excited by her visit and she seemed happy with the direction we are going and understands that we are still growing and developing. She was very complimentary of our schools, our students and our community.”
Mosallam also said that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“It’s a process,” he said. “It’s a slow process, but our students are already starting to see a change in the atmosphere and in each other in how they communicate and speak and act towards each other. We encourage parents and the community to continue having conversations with the school counselors and staff and coming to PTA events and meetings and I hope they will be encouraged to use the same language at home with their students to help be a reinforcement there as well.”
Schools with success stories are encouraged to complete the online form through the Restorative Practices initiative webpage.