A first grader in this community returned after Winter break to find his desk had been moved to the back corner of the classroom. He was later pulled out of the classroom by himself and asked by the principle if he knew any “racist” words and if he remembered calling a classmate a racist word prior to winter break. That evening, the parents received a call informing them their son allegedly called a classmate of color the “n” word. The child adamantly denied the allegation and he was very upset and concerned that this accusation had been made.
The incident led to a “Restorative Conversation” developed by the Peace Learning Center, which utilizes SEL models. This conversation included the 2 students involved, the substitute at the time, and the principle. Afterward, the principle summarized the conversation in an e-mail stating that they “spent a good amount of time discussing why we don’t say unkind things about other people just because they are different than us- for the way they look, what they believe, etc.” Concluding that they wanted to “fix” their relationship by apologizing. According to the accused, he apologized, but the accuser stated, without apology, “well, I thought that is what you said.”
The concerns I wanted to bring to your attention are the following~
The accused was automatically treated as “guilty” prior to any questioning by having his desk moved and by being called out to the hall to be questioned by the principle
There was no consequence for the accuser (in a “he-said, she-said” allegation), therefore, if it was a false accusation, this positively reinforces to a child to use this type of allegation in the future if something is not going their way.
This sets up a very dangerous precedent for future allegations regarding race, sexuality, etc. in which the accused is treated as guilty until proven innocent. The fear is that false allegations will become weaponized when they are handled in this manner.
He is a 7 year old being asked leading and coercive type questions regarding the incident.
This is a very culturally sensitive allegation that parents should have been involved in prior to any questioning and throughout the process.
The principle explained they use this process when “harm is caused, regardless of intent.
The focus was only directed at the harm allegedly caused by the accused. There was no focus or consideration of the harmful impact, regardless of intent, that results when/if a child is falsely accused.
One of the core values listed on the Peace Learning Center’s website is “Antiracism”, referencing “systemic racism”, which “benefit(s) white people to the detriment of people of color.”
Using this type of program is politically biased.
The restorative language helps shift the focus to developing empathy and understanding to promote healing.”
There was no emphasis on developing empathy or understanding as to why it would be wrong to make false accusations, especially one of this significance.
Submitted: Apr 01, 2021