California Educator

June/July 2019

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Page 47 of 63

T he 17-year-old was out with friends at a department store when she succumbed to peer pressure. She grabbed a hand- ful of rings from the jewelry display case along with several pairs of socks, and stuffed them into her purse without paying. Upon exiting the store, she was stopped by a security guard, arrested and charged with petty theft. N O W , A F E W M O N T H S L A T E R , she is being judged by a jur y of her peers at Redondo Union High School's Teen Court. The campus bingo room, which looks like a real courtroom, is packed with students, some of whom are called to jury duty. Unlike real life, they don't have to wait around for hours. Th e y immediately step up to the jury box. This live juvenile court has been a monthly occurrence on campus for five years, thanks to Marie Botchie, a special education teacher who serves as Teen Court coordinator. " I t 's a w o n d e r f u l p r o g r a m ," s a y s Botchie, a member of the Redondo Beach Teachers Association. " What I love the most is that it's a restorative justice pro- gram instead of a punitive one. Our goal is to take kids who have made mistakes and turn them around, so they can be a strong member of their school and community — without becoming repeat offenders." Only first-time offenders are assigned to Teen Court. Misdemeanor cases may Teen Court Rules! Restorative justice program in Redondo Beach helps all students By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Scott Buschman First-time offenders are judged by a jury of their peers. 46 Teaching & Learning

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