Student Discipline Decided in COURT

By Teachnet Contributor, Digna Artiles, Hudtloff Middle School, Washington State

One great way to monitor discipline is to involve your kids in the process. I work with older kids, so their need for “justice” helps contribute to its effectiveness. I hold Court once every two weeks. Kids are required to “dress for success” on the day of court. Otherwise, they are held “in contempt of court.”

Here’s how it works:

Judge = teacher

  • 6 officers (they give out tickets as needed)
    • 1st ticket = warning
    • 2nd ticket = last chance
    • 3rd ticket = see ya in court (sometimes, they receive this one automatically, depending on the severity of the crime)
  • 1 Chief (keeps a running list of the tickets; the officers give the tickets to the Chief. He or she writes down the specifics and then writes this on the white board when we are ready for court so the cases can be called out during court.
  • 6 jury members (they take notes during court then deliberate and come up with sentences. Sentences MUST be approved by the judge)They ask: who? crime? witnesses? officer? attorney? comments? in the form of a sentence

    (it is explained that when they deliberate, they are to make sure that the consequence fits the crime… examples: 1. if the crime was against a person, then the sentence must somehow “pay back” that person… i.e. being a maid for a day; or 2. if the crime is talking in class, the consequence is isolation-sitting by one’s self)

  • 2 prosecuting attorneys (they are to defend the rights of the class as a whole)
  • 2 defending attorneys (they, obviously, defend the accused. They are “hired” by the defendant. If they are not “hired” they do not defend. In some cases, defendants end up defending themselves because they don’t make arrangements for an attorney. An attorney needs time to prepare by taking notes, talking with witnesses, getting all of the details.
  • 1 bailiff says, “All rise for the honorable Judge….;” swears people in and keeps a running list of any kids that are in the audience that are talking during court (those kids are then found “in contempt of court and receive a ticket to appear in court the following court date)
  • 1 court reporter (takes notes in court of all proceedings – also runs a tape recorder)