Portage schools look to expand teen court

2013-07-19T18:30:00Z 2013-07-20T15:36:04Z Portage schools look to expand teen courtJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Portage Township Schools officials are looking to expand its teen court program.

Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia told the School Board this week he would like members to consider expanding the program from two to three days per week.

Teen court, which recently completed its first year, sends students who meet certain requirements to appear in front of a jury of their peers. The jury is required to render a verdict in each case and provide sentencing, which can range from community service to counseling. Infractions range from attendance issues to drug and alcohol use.

"The high school has indicated that in the early stages of the fall semester they could benefit from an extra day," said Frataccia, adding high school administrators believe using the court to address attendance issues in the fall could help curtail those issues.

Frataccia said expanding the use of the program would cost about an additional $7,500. The board will be asked to act on the expansion at its Monday meeting.

Board member Rhonda Nelson said she'd like to explore expanding the court to include infractions that happen outside of the school. For example, she said she has been told shoplifting is an issue and believed students, picked up on a first offense, could benefit from the program.

Frataccia said the school district could not make that decision unilaterally and that type of expansion would be up to the county's juvenile probation department.

Frataccia said the teen court program in Lake County, operated by Crisis Center, Inc., does address infractions outside of school.

Board President Cheryl Oprisko said there is also a cost factor involved, that the district is picking up the cost of the program.

Nelson asked a meeting be set up with the probation department to see if the program could be expanded.

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