Elkhart County gets major assist in curbing school to prison pipeline

Elkhart County has received thousands of dollars to fund an alternative to suspensions and expulsions in area schools. 

The idea here is restorative justice, a more personal touch to student punishment focused on resolution and impact.

For example, if a student steals something from the cafeteria, a conflict resolution session would be held with the student, parents, and affected staff. The punishment could include working a lunch shift or helping clean the cafeteria. 

The idea is to keeps kids in school and understand what they did wrong. It's an alternative to suspension, which often put kids in more trouble and adds to the growing problem of the school to prison pipeline. 

The state of Indiana just awarded the county a $51,000 dollar grant to put this all into action.

"Whether it's the school resource officer, the school principal, the school teacher, we even want the parents at the table so we can all sit down and devise the best plan of action for the student or whoever is involved in the situation," said Anthony Coleman, restorative justice school coordinator. 

Three police officers will be trained and paid full time to do restorative justice in schools starting next year. 

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