Bullying, restorative justice, equity work among issues discussed at school district’s Community Conversation

December 14, 2017. Lawrence Journal-World.

Around 50 people filled the Lawrence Public Library’s auditorium Thursday night for a public discussion on challenges facing the Lawrence school system.

The Community Conversation took place nearly a year after the district hosted its first event, which came after a tumultuous semester dominated by talk of racial equity and drew hundreds to Lawrence High School’s cafeteria. Race and other overarching equity issues were once again the focus Thursday night, along with concerns ranging from bullying and mental health services to curriculum and limited classroom resources.

Charleston to hire new firm to audit police department, a move interfaith group begged for

November 28, 2017. The Post and Courier.

The city of Charleston is heeding the call of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry to find a new firm to audit its police department.

The city hired Novak Consulting of Cincinnati earlier this year to audit multiple city departments to improve their performance, a scope of work that included a review of the police department. Members of the local interfaith group have argued repeatedly at City Council meetings that the firm doesn’t have enough experience identifying potentially racially-biased police practices.

On Tuesday, Charleston City Council approved a decision made by the Public Safety Committee to remove the police audit from Novak’s contract and begin searching for a new firm to do the job.

Citizens Taking The Next Step To Retrieve COPS Report

September 28, 2017. The Chronicle.

A coalition formed since the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced it will not release its report on its assessment of the North Charleston Police Department initiated last year, is calling for community engagement to force the federal agency to produce the document.

A coalition of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (NAACPLDF), the North Charleston Branch NAACP, The Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Community Resource Center last week called on citizens to contact local, state and federal elected officials asking them to push for release of the COPS report.

Advocates call for release of federal report on North Charleston police

September 20, 2017. The Post and Courier.

Staking a public claim to a yearlong assessment of North Charleston police, local civil rights advocates demanded the review’s release, despite the federal government’s decision to abandon the effort.

Their call came days after the Department of Justice announced an overhaul of the Collaborative Reform Initiative at the agency’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, essentially excising the reform component.

The program’s end shouldn’t stop federal officials from releasing a document that could highlight shortcomings of the North Charleston Police Department and aid local reformers’ mission to bring lasting change, the advocates argued.

Group renews push for peer-based conflict resolution vs. traditional discipline in schools

June 26, 2017. The Lawrence Journal-World.

Renewing their earlier calls for transparency and accountability, members of Justice Matters are again urging the school board to consider implementing restorative justice in Lawrence schools.

Gary Schmidt, co-chair of the group’s racial justice steering committee, used Monday’s school board meeting to re-engage the board in a conversation that board president Marcel Harmon said began last spring surrounding racial justice. Restorative justice hinges on empowering students to resolve conflicts on their own through peer-mediated small groups, as opposed to more traditional disciplinary methods.