YPSILANTI — Cooley Law School and Joan Vestrand, associate dean of Cooley’s Ann Arbor campus, were presented with the Eastern Leaders Group’s 2013 Leadership Award for establishing a student court at Ypsilanti Community High School. Cooley students manage and preside over the court of the wrongdoer’s peers in determining appropriate action following behavior in violation of the school’s code of conduct.
The goals of the program include teaching youth about the court process, giving students a stake in their own high school environment, and involving youth in creating positive and restorative outcomes, while correcting unacceptable behavior.
Vestrand designed the court, and this year, it will include a peacemaking component to mirror changes to the Washtenaw County courts. A recent grant awarded to Washtenaw County will allow the courts to launch the nation’s second peacemaking pilot. Peacemaking is a Native American form of restorative justice that, instead of punishment, involves the wrongdoer in the solution by repairing relationships harmed by his/her actions.