Youth Court Alliance helps York kids get to school

Written by Keira McGuire | Jun 9, 2016 3:11 PM

According to the United Way of York County, 57% of children in the County live in economically at-risk homes.

Elizabeth Ernst, with the United Way, has seen poverty affect a child's ability to get to school.

While some may think students just don't feel like going to school, Elizabeth says children in poverty sometimes have real reasons for missing such as homelessness or utilities that have been cut off.

Four unlawful absences from school would typically warrant an appearance in Magisterial District Court and could result in fines. But in York City School District truant students have another option.

Youth Court Alliance is a student-run program that offers truant students a chance to go before their peers and explain their reason for being truant. Student volunteers serve as lawyers, the judge, the bailiff and jurors - who ultimately decide on the sentence for the truant student. The sentences are aimed at reconnecting the student with their school. Possible sentences include jury duty, community service, research papers, and tutoring.

According to the United Way of York County, 75% of students who are truant will not graduate from high school. Over 91% of students involved in Youth Court Alliance during the 2014-15 school year had zero unexcused absences.

Published in Education, Educators

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