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      Toledo group fights to keep kids out of jail and in school

      On Monday, leaders of Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA) spoke to members about their efforts to keep Glass City students in school and out of jail.

      The gathering, held at Friendship Baptist Church on Nebraska, was well attended with about 400 to 500 TUSA members at the meeting.

      The main topic of discussion, at the event titled "Nehemiah Action", is what leaders say are the high number of TPS students being prosecuted in the criminal justice system for committing minor infractions to school disciplinary code.

      "It's our job as pastors, as parents, to try and do what we can to keep kids out of handcuffs. We are asking to work with the school system on it. [We hope] that they can beef up the discipline and that the children do not have to go through "the system", Rev. James H. Willis Jr. of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church said.

      TUSA leaders say the focus should be on programs like Restorative Justice that do more work with criminals and their victims outside the court system.

      One of the night's speakers was University of Toledo Criminal Justice Professor, Dr. Morris Jackson, who is offering to provide free training on Restorative Justice procedures to community members.

      Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, Dr. Jerome Pecko, was invited to the evening's meeting but was not in attendance.

      A statement was read on his behalf that said TPS was working with TUSA to develop procedures that will keep students out of jail and in the classroom.

      Attendees were encouraged to sign a statement from TUSA that would be given to Dr. Pecko to illustrate the groupsâ?? commitment to the issue.

      During the meeting, TUSA also took time to award the Old West End Academy with a "Champions of Children Award" for