WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Officials came together today to sign the Inter-Agency Governance Agreement on the Handling of School Offenses.
The goal is to keep more kids in class and less in jail.
“Being in school is where they need to be,” says Corporal J. D. Covil, SRO at Ronald-Grise Middle School.
Some say today it was a turning point for all New Hanover County schools.
“This is a historic day,” said Chief District Court Judge J. H. Corpening, II. “This is the first agreement like this in North Carolina.”
This agreement is to address school behavior when and where it happens instead of criminalizing that behavior.
“We are really trying to end with involvement with law enforcement on minor offenses,” said Corpening.
Minor offenses can be handled within the classroom by teachers and administrators.
“If they are becoming a danger to this campus, the safety of others is now jeopardize,” said Ronald-Grise Principal Dr. Sherry Pinto. “It certainly doesn’t preclude us from moving forward.”
In serious situations, officials will do what is necessary but the agreement clarifies what is a major or minor issue.
“Charging kids and them being out of school, suspension, it just leads them to be at home, be bored, and to get in trouble,” said Cpl. Covil. “So our goal is to work together and to make sure our kids are in school and getting that education in a safe environment.”
Law enforcement will intervene when it involves weapons, drugs, battery, or communicating threats.
“Law enforcement is there for safety, for security, for building relationships with the students not to criminalize student behavior,” says Corpening.
Chief District Court Judge J. H. Corpening, II was at the forefront to getting this in place.
“We are going to have to continue to deal with the kids that scare us, the kids that do stuff that is really really bad, but in terms of the kids that just make us mad this is going to be very effective,” said Corpening.
The agreement was signed by 13 officials and is officially in effect for the next three years.