Monterey County

Officials: Discipline in schools can lead to prison

Suspension and expulsion introduces kids to criminal system too early

Officials: Discipline in schools can lead to prison

SALINAS, Calif. - It's a process that many schools use: suspension, suspension and then expulsion. Now, the federal government is stepping in.

In a report Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education set guidelines that called for schools to use approaches that keeps discipline positive and kids in school.

"When you get expulsion and suspension it leads to a process called pipeline to prison," said Restorative Justice Program representative Elizabeth Hussbey, .

Hussbey says the non-profit in Monterey County is already one step ahead of the federal government.

"We try to keep them away from being identified or labeled as a juvenile delinquent or somehow being connected with criminal justice system," said Hussbey.

Hussbey said when kids are suspended they spend more time on the streets and get too familiar with police.

For American Civil Liberties Union representative Michelle Welsh that has a trickle-down effect.

"One reason for the over incarceration that we now have is not effectively dealing with students and youth," said Welsh.

The Restorative Program in schools encourages peer mediation, talking the problem out, and getting to the root of the problem. The program has already been in the Salinas City Elementary School District for three years and recently started at four schools in the Alisal Union School District

Even more so, Hussbey said the program is critical for neighborhoods where kids are exposed to violence.

"They have heard gunshots. and they are only 7, 8, 10 years old. So they need some additional time of teachers and volunteers to help them," said Hussbey.

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