Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

John Winslade


Alternative disciplinary strategies for K-12 educational institutions have been gaining popularity around the globe for challenging the epidemic of suspensions and expulsions that foster unsafe school climates and position youth on the pipeline-to-prison. This study used a qualitative approach to investigate Restorative Practices (RP) an innovative, alternative approach to discipline that appears to make a difference in New Zealand schools. The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to gain qualitative insight from twelve experienced professionals in RP in New Zealand into an approach that appears to transform school cultures and helps students remain in school and continue learning. The data collected from participants included their perspectives on the purpose and significance of the RP approach and offered insight into the implementation process and suggestions for long lasting sustainability. Participants also stressed how harsh disciplinary policies can impede positive school climates, which ultimately in large measure shape our society. Furthermore, it has been well documented that punitive practices, such as zero-tolerance are largely responsible for the enormous number of suspensions and expulsions that disproportionately impact primarily students with disabilities and students of color. California and other states around the US are currently using the RP model to address problems. The approach has been noted in this study as a paradigm shift in school culture that largely depends on leadership buy-in and effective implementation for success. The objective of this study was to investigate the purpose and significance of the RP for schools using qualitative methods to conduct twelve in-depth interviews of professionals with significant experience of RP in the region of Auckland, New Zealand. Findings from this study suggested that RP is a useful approach for attending to relational harm, which threatens to breakdown social structures in educational institutions. RP was also found to strengthen relationships, improve classroom and school climates and cultures and build social capital. Findings also indicated that RP shifts the power dynamic in the classroom, empowering students by enabling voice and agency, while improving teacher-student relationships, known to help narrow achievement gaps. Moreover, findings showed that RP teaches students valuable life skills, enabling them make better decisions, have healthier relationships, and be positive contributors to society. Finally, the findings suggested that RP repositions education significantly amounting to a huge revolution that can potentially change the future of education. Astute educational leaders and institutions around the globe recognize the need for systemic transformation. New Zealand is highlighted in this study as the leading country for RP in schools worldwide, as it has experienced transformative success with this approach so far.