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Board urged to adopt

Board urged to adopt

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Published by Charlene Cervenka

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Published by: Charlene Cervenka on Apr 09, 2011
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Written by LUIS ROCA
Florida International UniversityNearly 100 parents, students and school administrators at ameeting Monday pressed the Miami-Dade School Board to adopt a“Restorative Justice” program to reduce suspensions, dropouts andarrests at public schools.Supporters of the program say it views crime more broadly thansimple law breaking, focusing on the harm it causes to victims,communities and the accused themselves, in addition to thejudicial system.The call came at a meeting at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center inLiberty City, sponsored by the Power U Center for Social Change,an activist organization that has been working on the issue forseveral years.Among the speakers were Miami-Dade School Board memberDorothy Bendross-Mindingall and Marie Osborne, chief of theMiami-Dade County Public Defender’s juvenile division.Organizers said the meeting’s goal was to pressure the schoolboard to adopt the program in all schools, arguing it’s a provenway to reduce crime.“The school board officials made a study on Restorative Justice,” said Julia Daniel, a Power-U organizer. “They measured thefeasibility of the results and they found that it was a goodprogram. However, they haven’t done much about it.” Osborne agreed, saying Restorative Justice “works and is cheaperthan locking people up.” Bendross-Mindingall said she would support the initiative.“Restorative Justice, right now, is the number-one programstrategy for facing the problem of our kids,” she said.But the transition to Restorative Justice needs more than justsupport. Its inclusion in public schools requires easing oreliminating the district’s zero-tolerance policy which requiresprincipals to expel students in certain circumstances. It does not,however, stop police from arresting students for minor acts of 
disciplinary offenses such as hitting someone with a ruler.“School police is the second largest direct arrest police force forkids in the county,” said Osborne. “Miami Metro should be numberone and Miami city police second. That is alarming.” “Restorative Justice” would allow students to finish their educationwithout being forced to drop out due to suspensions orgetting involved with law enforcement and the courts, organizersof the meeting said.“Pushing students out of school is only a way to make them end inthe jailhouse,” Daniel said.
Luis Roca may be contacted at lroca001 @fiu.edu
Youth Organizer
written by Julia Daniel, April 07, 2011
Thank you for the coverage of the forum. There is one major mistake in thisarticle, however in that you state that Dorothy Bendross-Mindigall was aspeaker on the panel, while she was not even at the event. I think you mighthave been quoting Adora Obi-Nweze.
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