LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Sunnyside Intermediate School has a new way of keeping their kids out of trouble. They send them to court.
When certain behavior issues like shoving a classmate or being disruptive on a school bus come up at Sunnyside Intermediate School instead of getting detention, there's another option.
If a student admits guilt and the parents are willing, the child can go before a jury of their peers to be handed down their consequence.
"They might get time on the jury, they might have to write an apology letter to a bus driver or to a teacher," Sunnyside Principal Kevin Maxwell said. "Then, they also get these points."
The "points" are paid off by doing community service.
Everything from helping a teacher clean their room, to joining an after-school activity.
Juvenile Justice Specialist at the Bauer Center Stepheney Bauer said the focus isn't that the students get punished, but repay for their choices.
"What can we do to give all these kids at Sunnyside a chance to fulfill their dreams," Bauer said. "What can we do to make sure they're in the classroom, they're safe and they feel cared for? School Court is just one piece of that."
The accused doesn't have to stand alone in court. He or she is represented by volunteer attorneys from Oakland High School and can also call character witnesses. Oakland Dean of Students Lindsey Martin said students enjoy volunteering in School Court because they want to be advocates for the students.
"They're helping students have a voice," Martin said. "I think that's really important to our students here, it's what we focus on here as a school. Now our students are taking their voice and using it to help other students."
Now that School Court has been in session for a couple weeks, students are already learning the consequences that come from their actions.
"Seeing them already start to get involved in after school activities and getting excited about the things that they're doing," Bauer said. "Making the connection that they're helping other students out and they're able to support one another, honestly, it makes my heart sing."
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