Restorative justice leaves the building

Lincoln County School District Superintendent Gray is now moving full speed ahead to turn our schools into mini-police stations. Her latest scheme is to put probation officers in our schools. This, at a cost of over $4 million, and in a school district that has one of the highest drop-out rates in the nation.

What with so-called "school resource officers" patrolling the halls, drug dogs sniffing around lockers and backpacks and now probation officers setting up shop in our schools, what's next? Holding cells? 

Superintendant Gray promised to bring restorative justice practices to our schools. This latest scheme moves in the opposite direction and will only exacerbate the "school-to-prison pipeline." Four million bucks could be better invested in trained, educated mental health counselors in our schools.

I respect the job police do every day, but they are not, and never will be mental health experts that kids can confide in for help in a crisis. When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

Developing effective student mental health care is perhaps a bit more difficult than throwing cops at the problem, but I think that's why she gets paid the big bucks, right? This is an easy, "get it off my plate" solution for the superintendent, but certainly not what I was hoping for when she spoke about her commitment to restorative justice.

Robert Fuller



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