NC Program Hopes To Keep Students In School, Out Of Court

NC Program Hopes To Keep Students In School, Out Of Court

7:53pm Aug 12, 2019
North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley joins Gov. Roy Cooper, law enforcement officials, and community leaders to announce the official release of the School Justice Partnership Toolkit during a press conference at Eastern Guilford High School. KERI BROWN/WFDD

A program that has taken root in several North Carolina communities to keep kids in school and out of the courtroom could soon expand across the state.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley was among several speakers during a media briefing in Guilford County on Monday to discuss the initiative for non-violent offenses. It’s called the School Justice Partnership Toolkit.

It provides school systems across the state with a step-by-step guide to establish their own programs that can be tailored to their needs. The program focuses on building relationships with various stakeholders.

Beasley says school resource officers will also work closely with districts during the process. She says it will help law enforcement decide what student behavior cases would result in an arrest or minor punishment.

“It’s important to really think about whether or not these young people are hungry, whether or not they are suffering from maltreatment, whether or not they have a caregiver in their family who is ill or suffering from addiction, and these are problems that are better addressed by the social services system rather than our courts,” says Beasley.

Beasley says research shows that when a student is referred to the juvenile justice system, they are less likely to graduate high school, more likely to repeat a grade in school and more likely to be charged later on as an adult with more serious offenses.

According to the state, last year more than 11,000 children were referred to the juvenile justice system from schools, and only a fraction of those offenses were very serious ones.

The School Justice Partnership is currently in 35 of the state’s counties. Organizers hope it will take hold in all 100 counties.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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