July 6, 2023

SUNY Empire Professor Named to Saratoga Springs Restorative Justice Panel

Heather Reynolds
Heather Reynolds, Ed.M., Ph.D.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – July 6, 2023) Empire State University Professor of Teacher Education Heather Reynolds was named to Saratoga Springs’ new restorative justice panel. Reynolds is among 10 other community members to serve on the panel, all selected by Mayor Ron Kim and members of the city council. Reynolds was asked to participate by Minita Sanghvi, the Saratoga Springs commissioner of finance.

Born out of the city’s Police Reform Task Force, the Restorative Justice Panel will define what restorative justice means in today’s context through a community-wide dialogue with residents and institutions. Restorative justice is typically defined as a system of criminal justice which focuses on rehabilitation through reconciliation – with both victims and the community at large.

“Currently, there are a few people in the schools and community who are trained in and committed to restorative practices,” Reynolds said. “A lot of this work is just learning how to talk to each other and listen in a respectful and productive manner. We will not always agree, but being able to listen to an experience or perspective that is very different from your own and try to understand it is critical.”

Reynolds' research centers around school safety and the importance of welcoming and supportive environments. She was recently featured in a podcast episode entitled “Redefining School Safety” for the “Our Children Can’t Wait” podcast with Executive Director for the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools Joseph Bishop.

“We have a lot of issues with disproportionate punitive action against people of color in our schools and community which needs to be addressed,” she said. “I think my perspective and research background in welcoming and restorative practices will be helpful when it comes to making evidence-based recommendations.” The panel will present their recommendations to the city council in December 2023.