School Climate & Safety Photos

Peer Court

By Nicole Frugé — October 17, 2012 1 min read
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Danny Perez, a 7th grader at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif., faces a court of his peers for getting involved in a fight. Kristy Treewater, the school’s assistant principal, sits by his side to monitor the student-run session.
Assistant principal Kristy Treewater, left, watches as Danny Perez, a 7th grader at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif., answers questions in peer court.
Seventh grader Danny Perez and his assistant principal, Kristy Treewater, sit side-by-side during a student-run session of peer court at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif.
Karen Junker, the climate and culture specialist at Davidson Middle School, stands in front of a board with the peer court goals. The court sessions offer an alternative to suspension.
Danny Perez, a 7th grader at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif., waits in the hallway with assistant principal Kristy Treewater, center, his mother Ofelia Ajeatas, and a translator while the peer court deliberates his fate.
Ofelia Ajeatas listens to her son, Danny, promise he will not make her miss work again to attend peer court.
Assistant principal Kristy Treewater counsels Danny after his peer-court session. He was “sentenced” to write apology letters, attend tutoring, and practice with the football or wrestling teams.

Danny Perez, a 7th grader at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, Calif., sat before a court of his peers to explain why he was in trouble for fighting. With very little coaching from their facilitator, his fellow students questioned Danny to get to the root of some of the problems he was facing. They started by asking him what his days were like. Danny said that he normally watches TV after school instead of finishing his homework, because he often doesn’t understand it. One of the students pressed him further, asking if he was embarrassed to ask for help, and he admitted he was. So as part of his “sentence,” the peer court set him up with a tutor so he could get help without having to ask in front of other kids. They also decided he should sign up for a sport, so he has an activity to be involved in and an outlet for his energy. It was inspiring to see an environment where the school is pursuing creative solutions to best help a student and even better it all comes from fellow students. These middle-schoolers didn’t take anything at face value. They spent some time trying to figure out why Danny might be fighting in the first place, and everyone involved really seemed to care about him. —Sarah Rice

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A version of this article first appeared in the Full Frame blog.

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