NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven and Bridgeport schools used a “restorative approach” to respond to a fight between Wilbur Cross High School and Bassick High School during a Jan. 16 baseball game.
“Bridgeport and New Haven Public Schools view a restorative approach as foundation to their work in improving academic, social, and emotional learning and driving toward equity for students,” an announcement from the New Haven Public Schools Office of Athletics reads.
The athletic director, Erik Patchkofsky, met with the team’s coach and Wilbur Cross High School to review footage of the fight. The group met with players and parents, along with the Office of Youth, Family, and Community Engagement to implement a “restorative circle” for the athletes.
“The restorative circle served as an opportunity for the participants to share their perspectives of what happened during the incident, discuss what they have been thinking about since, and explore who had been affected,” the statement reads. “Many players expressed that the most disappointing outcome of their actions was letting their team, coach, and school community down. All players agreed that they did not want this incident to represent them. The team expressed a desire to engage with the Bridgeport team to repair the harm that had taken place and move forward.”
Students were disciplined, as well.
Bassick High School Principal Joseph Raiola said that the process includes a three-prong approach that involves him working with his students, New Haven working with its students, then both groups meeting.
“We want this to work,” Raiola said. “We want to have a good relationship, we want to play good basketball.”
The Bassick High School players will travel to New Haven next week for a restorative circle with the Wilbur Cross High School athletes.
“What we hope next week is we’re all gonna sit down together, have a good conversation about what occurred from both sides, and really kind of bury that hatchet,” Raiola said.
The circles aren’t new to New Haven Public Schools, according to the statement, and have been used for several years.
“The New Haven school district views restorative practices as providing students with lifelong skills, including relationship building and healthy resolution to conflict,” the statement reads. “Restorative practices create an environment where students and adults can feel respected, valued, and safe.”
The Wilbur Cross-Bassick fight wasn’t the only conflict that arose out of a Connecticut basketball game this month. A staff member was injured during a fight between Middletown and Weaver high schools last week.