New program at Paterson schools tries to resolves problems to prevent suspensions

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- It has become a vicious cycle in Paterson, New Jersey, schools: Students are consistently suspended, and eventually, many end up in prison.

Now, the school district wants to break this pattern with its new Restorative Justice Group.

At Eastside High School, students can now decompress inside the so-called peace room. They added candles, a sofa, and posters, which are designed for students to take a step back from their stressful academic world.

"I like the fact that the school is really trying to help students ... they're really trying to make you feel homey, calm, collected area," said Anthony Vasqez, a student.

The group also gives room for students to talk to each other and resolve conflicts, with adults and other students present.

Administrators hope this will take much of the discipline out of the school principal's hands. He said this is fine with him because he knows suspensions do not work.

"Maybe the parents are working two or three jobs, they're not home. The students are by themselves or they're walking the streets. They're getting involved in other things. It's not safe. It's not a good environment," said principal Gerald Glisson.

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