Letters to the Editor

Refocus discipline in the new school year

We thank Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) and the School Board for eliminating suspensions, the establishment of nine Success Centers and the Restorative Justice pilot programs. This is progress!

On June 17, the Miami Herald published an article on the problems of out-of-school suspensions and the Success Centers. As members of People Acting for Community Together (PACT), we have been involved in assessing the centers almost from the start. Dozens of community leaders from PACT, including parents, grandparents and other family members of our children visited the centers multiple times.

While the centers do keep children in a supervised setting, MDCPS has an opportunity to help children learn from their mistakes and address issues early on before they can cause a danger to themselves and the community. As we go into the new school year, how do we know that the Success Centers will perform better this year?

The Centers could improve by receiving children’s school work and by providing transportation.

However, we also need to start separating children by their grade level; having assessments made for each child entering a center and connecting them with needed services; and using measures of success when they finish their time at the center. There are no measures now.

We are grateful to hear that ESTOPP (Eradicating the School-to-Prison Pipeline Foundation) was contracted to provide Restorative Justice (RJ) training in two pilot schools and believe that we should use RJ practices throughout the district. Let’s start the school year out right before more children go through the same process and our problems of youth trauma and violence continue.

Msgr. Chanel Jeanty,

North Miami;

Dr. Abdy Javadzadeh,

Miami Gardens;

Rabbi Gary Glickstein,

Miami Beach