The STEP-UP program is helping many students with criminal records to embrace a trade and become skilled. Those students enrolled in the program can achieve a 1 year certificate within heavy equipment and thereafter seek out high demand roles. Such as construction, welding or office administration. One student found herself on the wrong side of the law with possession of a firearm but felt living in a trailer with a grandson and 4 children she needed it. As one of the students with criminal records not to complete the course is unthinkable.

The STEP-UP program has gone from strength to strength since it’s inception in 2013 and has grown from 20 to 100 students to date. Getting back to school for students with criminal records makes the world of difference to their lives. The program is managed at the Shasta College. The Probation Dept and The Shasta County Sheriff’s office refer students with criminal records,

Students catch up weekly and touch base as to how their classes are going and their health, Program coordinators and students have monthly meets to counter any difficulties or concerns. Along with new events and services available to the students. What underpins the program is students who want to succeed. Organisers like to cherry pick enquiries from industry leaders seeking skilled employees for high demand machine operators. Employers typically have no issues with hiring students with criminal records. However a history of violence does raise concerns.

However the majority of students with criminal records are without violent criminal convictions. Some are attempting to break away from criminal behaviour and those recovering from drug addiction. Those that violate probation unfortunately are removed from the program but this number is low at around 6. Those that aren’t accepted on to the course are those convicted of battery, domestic violence and/or registered sex offenders. The program has been facilitated for 4 years by local law enforcement agencies working with Shasta College.

Other partners include California Heritage Youth Build Academy, the Good News Rescue Mission and the Sheriff’s Office. Candidates need to preferably be referred by the probation department. Potential students need a high school diploma or GED before commencing the STEP-UP program. A handful of STEP-UP students are grateful for the course against the spectre of recidivism. Follow this link to read more about the work readiness event organized by County Officials, California Heritage YouthBuild Academy and other local organizations.

On another note a Republican bill seeks to relax the confidentiality of juvenile criminal records. Students can have contracts terminated should they attack teachers. Police would also have to contact any school administration whenever a student is arrested for a violent crime. Jeremey Thiesefeldt (Rep), notably an ex teacher has not introduced the bill as yet as it’s still under revision. This appears to be another counter measure against the Obama administration’s program. Schools were urged in 2014 to adopt a more benign approach to discipline. However claims are that this has led to violence against teachers and further frustration with school administrators as students go unpunished. Specifically a middle school teacher from Green Bay who resigned back in the Summer. The teacher claimed she feared for her safety.

Currently all juvenile criminal records in Wisconsin are automatically sealed. The new bill seeks to allow police to notify school’s the following day should a student be apprehended on suspicion of a crime involving violence. Thereafter governors and/or school administrators must notify those working directly with the student involved as soon as is practically possible. Teachers have recourse to the relevant school board to seek suspension of the student should the school administrators refuse.

There would also be a responsibility on Governors and administrators to alert the relevant police department within 24 hours of an assault or violent crime. These incidents of crime can either be within the school grounds or at a sponsored activity. The bill also allows for teachers who have been victims of attacks to take leave without fear of penalty. The republican acknowledges that teachers and administrators will be aware of students with criminal records but they will be unable to divulge to any third party. The access to the information is seen as beneficial to teachers, students and conducive to the class room.

A list of teacher’s rights would also have to be posted online. This is inclusive removing a student from class for up to 2 days. Also within the rights is the proposal that a teacher has the right to use ‘reasonable force’ to defend other students and themselves. The list also includes a right to information about a pupil who has been taken in to custody over a violent crime and rights to requesting a hearing for suspension. A spokesperson for Kids Forward who advocate opportunities for children declined to comment in light of not having had an opportunity to review the bill.