LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In a message to Eldorado High School parents, a violent attack on one of the school's teachers is being called an "isolated incident." But it's just the latest in a series of violent acts on school campuses in Clark County.
Parents and teachers say district policies are partially to blame, and point the finger at one policy in particular.
It's called "restorative justice," and it prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment. When Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara implemented it a few years ago, it took away a tool and gave school administrators fewer options and less ability to hold students accountable.
Under restorative justice, the only reason a student could be expelled was for weapons — not for fights, and not even for attacking a staff member.
"It's not perfect. I'll be the first one to tell you it's not perfect, but we can't just toss it," Jara previously said of the policy.
Restorative Justice has been likened to trying to collect data on speeding in school zones by not issuing tickets and just letting everyone speed. Just last week, the Clark County School District had to revise its expulsion policies, acknowledging the escalation in violence.
Teacher Kelly Edgar says restorative justice is an important and necessary concept, "but they implemented Restorative Justice without a plan, without the staff in place."
The district has closed two of its behavioral schools. That left fewer places for expelled students, who are often kept in alternative programs on regular campuses.
"But the problem is, those alternative behavior schools are staffed by campus monitors — not licensed educators — because we don't have enough licensed educators to staff them," Edgar said. "There's no 'restorative justice' happening in those rooms."
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Concerns over violence in the Clark County School District
"We need social workers. We need counselors. We need psychologists who are equipped and educated to handle students who are coming to us with these big problems," she said.
The district said it's doubling down to increase staff and professional development, and that violence will not be tolerated at Clark County Schools or against students or staff.