Re: DSM: Re: Judicial Committee and School Meeting


Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Mon, 5 Mar 2001 19:31:41 -0700


This is Bruce at AVS, with just a few points to add to this discussion.

First, I think I see Marko's initial point, that JC can sometimes get
bogged down in crime and punishment. Yet it's incorrect to assume that this
is the basic character of JC, and therefore sufficient reason to invent a
better mousetrap. Much of the time, JC *does* in fact focus on the reason
behind the incident, the problem rather than the result, with the express
intention of making it less likely that the problematic behavior will
recur.

Case in point: recently someone was charged for leaving campus when they
were needed for JC. What was their sentence? To remind ten School Meeting
members to check, before leaving campus, to see if you're needed for JC.
Not exactly strenuous punishment; in fact, it meant that the person who'd
broken a rule had to repeat the rule ten times, and ten other people got to
hear the reminder to boot.

Ideally, all sentences have a close, logical connection to the incident,
and involve either restitution or some action which reminds the individual
of why they were written up and charged in the first place. We very much
frown upon sentences which are strictly punitive.

>One solution might be as I probably wrote somewhere that the PS (Problem
>Solver) could ask the person who has admitted violating some rules, what
>would s/he propose for a solution. Usually people given a chance to find
>a solution for their own misbehavior, will figure out reasonable
>solutions.

You're assuming that this doesn't happen in JC. Guess what? It often does.
Individuals are given the chance to participate in the discussion of their
sentences, and they often come up with good suggestions.

>And the attitude of the community should be IMO to ask "how
>can we support you that you will find other ways to behave or to stop
>such behavior"

I've heard almost these exact words, more than once, spoken at School
Meetings. What many people have difficulty appreciating is just how
supportive Sudbury schools are, even while maintaining such high standards
for individual responsibility.

>Except the JC itself. It is just a substitute for an arbitrary
>authority. I can't see the philosophical difference. The only difference
>IMO is that it is much more harder to fight against peers than against
>the authority.

And your problem solvers would not represent the same degree of arbitrary
authority?

Bruce



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