The Clark County School District is launching a new program to keep kids out of the justice system for minor offenses.
Superintendent Jesus Jara made the announcement at Eldorado High School Friday, surrounded by the school board and members of the community.
The district is trying to break what it calls the “School to Prison Pipeline.”
CCSD, along with the district attorney’s office and the court system have a memorandum of understanding that includes dealing with things like non-violent misdemeanors in a different way than sending kids straight to the criminal justice system.
It also stresses getting students who have been suspended or expelled back into school quicker, along with taking a more one-on-one approach to working with those children as they reintegrate into the classroom.
Dr. Mike Barton, the district’s chief college, career, and equity officer, spearheaded the effort to come up with the plan. He says early intervention is key.
“There might be minor things that happen in the classroom, but how do we keep that behavior in the classroom versus it becoming a dean of students issue, or an expulsion, or a juvenile justice issue, because we know, if a student gets into the juvenile justice system, they’ll probably stay there, or it could incarcerate to adult incarceration,” according to Dr. Barton.
Superintendent Jara announced as the policy is implemented, the district plans to be more transparent because of a disparity of demographics when it comes to students being referred to police for charges.
Last school year, for example, African American students made up 13 percent of the student population for CCSD but accounted for roughly 40 percent of the expulsions or suspensions.
The district wants to cut the number of students referred to police for arrests or tickets by 20 percent by the end of the 2019 school year.
For more on the data on discipline actions by ethnicity and by school go here.