Five years ago, Fremont High in East Oakland had some of the highest discipline and lowest attendance rates in the city. Fights and conflicts were common. Only 1 in 4 graduates were qualified to attend public college in California. One in 3 dropped out entirely.
But Fremont High is – literally – a different place now. With a newly rebuilt campus and an intensive focus on improving campus climate, Fremont has seen its enrollment jump 20% even as districtwide enrollment has dropped, and the number of students who qualify for college admission has nearly tripled.
Much of the credit, students and administrators say, goes to a restorative justice program that’s evolved beyond its original mission of resolving disputes to encompass a total transformation of school culture.
“If you grew up around here, you remember when Fremont had a horrible reputation,” said Tatiana Chaterji, the school’s restorative justice facilitator. “But we’ve worked so hard on building community, relationships, trust. I really feel we’ve made a difference. I feel so proud. Honestly, to see where we are now, it’s a dream come true.”