Kids in the Courtroom

On Tuesday, May 13, 2014, we welcomed students and faculty from Bayard Middle School, as well as representatives from Widener Law School as special guests for our Annual Meeting. The topic of discussion? Bayard’s exciting new youth court program, which will officially launch at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Five sixth and seventh grade students were on hand to give us the inside scoop on everything they’ve been doing to prepare to launch their youth court, what they’ve learned about restorative justice, and their (and their classmates) changing perceptions about school discipline. Bayard principal Donald Patton and the court’s faculty moderator Linda Lloyd Douglas talked about what led Bayard to consider starting a youth court, the impact they’ve seen so far, and what they’re planning for next year’s big launch. Sydney Howe-Barksdale, Director of Widener’s Public Interest Resource Center and adviser to the Bayard program, was also present to give some background on Widener’s involvement and the benefit to the participating law students.

Attendees also watched a video clip of a mock trial and saw some pictures of Bayard’s students in action:

Overall, it was a fascinating, fun, and funny evening! The big takeaway: There ARE viable alternatives to punitive discipline practices like suspension and expulsion, and better yet, they keep our students where they are supposed to be—learning in the classroom instead of in the juvenile justice system.

In case you missed it, we’ve collected some of the resources shared during the evening:

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