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Posted on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Dispute Resolution Center to mentor staff, students at Ypsilanti High for $20,000

By Danielle Arndt

Students and staff at Ypsilanti High School soon could benefit from conflict resolution and peer mediating services during the day.

Ypsilanti Public Schools will use $20,000 of a $149,500 grant it recently received to partner with the Dispute Resolution Center to provide services officials say will improve the school’s overall environment.


Ypsilanti High School

“When school communities are smaller there is a greater impact when something goes wrong,” said Belinda Dulin, executive director of the resolution center.

Ypsilanti High School currently is undergoing a redesign, part of which involved implementing small learning communities at the school, said Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Martin.

The Board of Education approved the contract with the Dispute Resolution Center unanimously. The funding will come from the Safe and Supportive Schools grant YPS was awarded.

“This is meant to be a first step toward implementing a comprehensive, school-wide restorative justice program…” Martin said in a memo to the board. “In-school intervention is another strategy we plan to employ as a restorative practice, keeping students within the learning community and giving them opportunities to maintain positive relationships with peers, staff and the school as a whole.”

The Dispute Resolution Center, according to the contract, will staff a conflict resolution services coordinator at the school 25 hours per week to provide oversight of the program, including peer mediation and restorative justice.

Dulin described restorative justice as a conflict resolution process that involves both those parties who have been harmed by an action and those doing the harm to be active in developing a solution to the problem.

“It teaches everyone to be accountable and to … work together to restore the community of the school,” she said.

Also per the partnership, the center will schedule two trainers to provide 12 hours of peer mediation training for up to 30 students and staff advisors.

The Dispute Resolution Center will collect data at YHS as well, including the types of disputes, student demographics, the referral sources and resolution rates.

“I just wanted to say it’s about time … and thank you very much,” said Board Vice President Kira Berman. “I personally am very happy to see this program going into the high school.”

Traditionally, the Dispute Resolution Center has worked with adults, and is appointed to handle situations by Washtenaw County district and circuit court judges, Dulin said. In the mid- to late-90s, the center took on assisting parents and special needs students involved in disputes with their districts about special education care and services being provided to them.

Following that, the DRC became involved in Ypsilanti schools to assist in situations dealing with chronically absent students in the district’s elementary schools. Last year, the center launched a pilot peer mediation program, which it will be expanding upon this year under the one-year contract, in tandem with adding the new conflict resolution services, Dulin said.

Read the complete contract between YPS and the Dispute Resolution Center here.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


David Cahill

Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

The Dispute Resolution Center is a great group and will provide excellent service! I hope that this new program will reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions.

Nick Danger

Wed, Oct 24, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.

Money well spent