School-Based Youth Courts: An Innovative Approach To School Discipline Practices
Youth Courts have long served as a restorative justice approach to discipline. Minor offenders are judged by a jury of their peers. Sentences are designed to be constructive, allowing the youth to make amends for the poor choice they made. The program we will highlight in our workshop is the Raider Court, a school-based court that hears cases of students who commit minor rule infractions at Huntington High School in Louisiana. Raider Court provides constructive consequences. It helps the respondents understand the harm caused by the infraction and builds skills to prevent future infractions. The court is restorative in that it focuses on repairing harm to the victim. The workshop objective is to share the best practices for implementing a school-based youth court. Attendees will find out how the program supports Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support by providing a constructive alternative to in and out-of-school suspension, as well as other disciplinary practices.
Cindy Deck has been an educator for the past 13 years. She holds a Masters in Educational Leadership. Cindy has for nearly 10 years served as a youth justice volunteer administrator for the local Teen Court Program. She was the driving force behind the implementation of a school-based court at Huntington High School because she saw first-hand the value the program adds to the lives of both the court members and the respondents.
Shonda Houston-Dotie is employed by Volunteers for Youth Justice in Shreveport where she serves as Director of Youth Programs. Volunteers for Youth Justice is a local non-profit organization that serves youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system. As Director of Youth Programs, she oversees the development and operations of the juvenile diversion and mentoring programs. Houston-Dotie has been with the agency since 1998 and has a real passion for facilitating change in people’s lives. She has been instrumental in creating and leading dynamic programs for youth in crisis including mentoring, court diversion programs, school fight diversion (conflict resolution), and leadership programs for youth in area schools.
Dr, Mitchell has been a principal in Caddo Parish for five years. He has a history of improving low performing schools. In 2017 he was awarded by the Louisiana Department of Education for having a Top Gains school in Caddo Parish. He helped piloted the first school based peer court in Louisiana at his school.