Choice EducationThe Choice Program was selected to conduct a pilot based on the philosophy of providing community-based, in-school alternative to arrest, suspension and expulsion. Reducing in-school arrest, suspension and expulsion is key to reducing disproportionate minority representation in Baltimore City’s juvenile justice system. In August 2010 under the leadership of The Baltimore Open Society and Juvenile Court Judge, Robert Kershaw, Baltimore Public Schools, the Juvenile Court and School Safety Collaborative was formed to ensure that school police arrest or refer students to juvenile court only when absolutely necessary to maintain a safe school environment. An action plan was agreed to that identifies student conduct that may be eligible for referral to community-based or school intervention. The plan intends to reduce the overrepresentation of African-American youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system by reducing in-school arrests, suspensions and expulsions that negatively impact a student’s educational progress.
Choice selected Augusta Fells Savage Institute for the Visual Arts (AFSIVA) as its partner in the pilot program. AFSIVA, with a student body of 300, had the 4th highest in-school arrest within the Baltimore City Public Schools in 2009.