Last week was national week of action against school pushout, a practice where schools take an active role in discouraging a student’s education through detention, suspension and expulsion; instead of peer, institutional and parental support.
According to a report by Public Policy Clinic of the University of Utah, one in three inmates at the Utah State Prison is a high school dropout.
Students who fail to finish high school are three and a half times more likely to be arrested as an adult.
Among high school dropouts 38 percent of students learning English dropped out as did 31 percent of Native American students and 29 percent of Latinos.
Salt Lake Peer Court is a non-profit volunteer organization, offering support and an alternative for students who would otherwise be pushed out of the education institution.
Students are sent to a peer group panel and are assigned a peer-to-peer mentor.
“Every kid has this great potential for learning and by pushing them out you leave the kid stranded with no education and no one likes being in that position,” said Rogelio Romeo, a West High senior, a peer-to-peer mentor and volunteer for Peer Court. “If people know this is happening to kids they would understand this is an issue we need to fix.”
“There’s not a judge there, you don’t get a sentence you get a disposition, just community service, it doesn’t mark your record as a delinquent,” said Joselin Padilla, a senior at West High and Peer Court Volunteer. “It’s really sad to send a good kid to jail. You shouldn’t see kids being sent to detention centers for things that could be fixed easily.”