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Pittsburgh Attorneys Lead Constitution and Youth Court Projects at Local Charter School

On September 11, 2015 by Schnader in News

Schnader’s Pittsburgh office is partnering with the Manchester Academic Charter School Junior High (MACS), located in Pittsburgh’s North Side. The school is implementing a series of project-based learning techniques focused on governance and the rule of law, and Schnader attorneys are working with the administration and student body to implement a number of these projects.

Schnader kicked off the program on September 1, 2015, when volunteers met with students to discuss the U.S. Constitution. The attorneys focused on a number of important rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, and how those rights impact the students’ lives. The attorneys then engaged the students in a dialogue, discussing the students’ opinions on what rights are most important to them and which rights they would like included in their school’s constitution.

On September 4, the eighth grade students met in a Constitutional Convention to draft a Bill of Rights for the school. School administration and Schnader attorneys facilitated the discussion, and the students utilized ideas presented by all grade levels at the school. This Constitution will be ratified at a special ceremony on Constitution Day (September 17).

The school also will implement a Youth Court, designed to address non-serious cases of student misconduct. Each role within the court will be performed by students, including those of judge, advocates, bailiff, clerk and jurors. The process will be more collaborative than a traditional court system, with the ultimate goal of “restoring” the transgressor to the student community rather than inflicting punishment. Schnader attorneys met with students on September 9 to provide training on advocacy and jury deliberations, and will help oversee Youth Court proceedings. 

Manchester Academic Charter School Junior High has 70 students enrolled in grades six through eight. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of the students come from low-income households.