The school reached out to a nonprofit agency for help. As part of a $20,000 contract with the board, teachers took training in conflict resolution from Community Justice Initiatives, which steps in at the school to mediate student disagreements.
Shelley Schanzenbacher of the nonprofit agency attends regularly at St. Benedict to invite willing students to find ways to resolve their conflicts. Students do this in part by acknowledging their roles. This gives them a stake in crafting a resolution.”Everybody usually has a piece they own,” Schanzenbacher said. “The biggest question is: what do you think needs to happen to make this right? … Very seldom do I end up where they come to an impasse and they can’t come to an agreement.” Typically a student-brokered agreement holds, she said. In part this is because students get to craft their own solutions, instead of the school suspending them or imposing an outcome.
“We’re definitely seeing improvement,” Witt said.