Originally posted to MNPS Children First Blog.
Yesterday at Antioch High School, newly elected Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Jones Calloway swore in 30 students to the school’s newly installed youth court program. This marks the culmination of a yearlong effort to add three new youth court programs inside Metro Schools. Judge Calloway has played a pivotal role in implementing and expanding the youth court program in the district.
Youth court programs provide a second chance for juvenile first offenders who admit to the charges against them. In youth court, students assume roles as court officials. They hear and decide cases involving other young people who are first time offenders and have been cited for low-level offenses like vandalism, shoplifting and truancy.
“Youth courts have proven very successful in other communities, and we are excited that we will now be operating four youth courts in Davidson County,” said Judge Calloway. “As the Judge of Juvenile Court, I have personally learned a great deal from the students in youth court and their ideas about justice. Young people understand how other young people think and act better than adults do, so it makes sense for them to be involved in resolving these cases. Programs like youth court enable us to work together to develop fair and restorative solutions to the problems we face in our community.”
The youth court program in Metro Schools is the result of a partnership between Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Juvenile Courts, Metro Schools and the Tennessee Youth Court Program. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association.
Cane Ridge High School served as the pilot program in October 2013. After successful implementation at Cane Ridge, the partnership worked quickly with a goal of adding courts in three more schools. Youth courts at Whites Creek and McGavock High Schools began hearing cases in February 2014. After hearing about the program and its successes from her colleagues, Antioch Executive Principal Dr. Adrienne Koger secured the opportunity for her students.
“This is a chance for our students to learn about responsibility on a societal level,” said Dr. Koger. “They are not just taking responsibility for themselves, but also helping their peers and others of their generation. There are very few programs that so perfectly combine public service and experiential learning. We are lucky to have the youth court program here at Antioch.”
This is the latest accolade for Antioch High School, which earlier this year was named a Reward School for academic growth by the Tennessee Department of Education.
The training and expansion of the youth court program in Metro Schools is a continuation of the collaboration with the Tennessee Bar Association, Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Courts, Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC), and the MNPS Student Services Division.
The Metro-Student Attendance Center (M-SAC) is a program operated by the Metro Nashville Juvenile Court in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Police Department with the goal of decreasing truancy rates in Nashville schools by addressing the root causes of truancy.
The Tennessee Youth Court Program is a youth-driven delinquency prevention/intervention program that has spread to 16 communities throughout Tennessee. Ninety-three percent of the youth participating in the program do not re-offend. The Tennessee Youth Court Program is an initiative of the Tennessee Bar Association with funding from the State of Tennessee.