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Project PEACE training postponed; no new date announced

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 This summer's training for Project PEACE - Peaceful Endings through Attorneys, Children, and Education - originally scheduled for July 16-18, has been canceled because of a lack of registrations from teachers. An extended deadline failed to draw any more registrations.

The training might be rescheduled for sometime after the start of the 2007-08 school year. Project PEACE is a peer mediation program implemented by the Indiana Department of Education with support from the Indiana State Bar Association and the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

Because of the decline in interest, the bar association and department of education coordinators are looking at ways to update the training. Among the changes were the length of the program, which traditionally started around noon on the first day, then lasted through noon on a third day with overnight stays in a hotel to accommodate early morning and late night trainings.

Terry Albright, this year's training coordinator on the bar association's side, discussed the issue with others involved in the project, including Gina Woodward, coordinator for the project on the Department of Education's side. They agreed that the declining interest in the training could also be because of increased responsibilities for teachers, especially following No Child Left Behind.

"Teachers are saddled with more and more responsibilities," Albright said. "So there might be less interest for something of this program's character, which is totally voluntary, it doesn't give teachers much extra credit in terms of what they do, and (the program) needs to be carried on through the entire school year."

Albright, who served as president of the Indiana State Bar Association when Project PEACE was first implemented in 1993-94, said, "One of the things we have to assess is 'Has peer mediation as a program for schools run its course?'"

Albright added that schools in other states, such as Pennsylvania, continue to have success with these types of programs.

Due to lack of interest from schools this early in the planning stages, the bar association had not yet asked any attorneys to participate this year.

"We normally try to get schools to sign up and then find attorneys with a background in alternative dispute resolution to be the advisor," Albright said. "We had not reached that point yet. But I would say that earlier in the program, it was more common to see an attorney link up with one of the schools who wanted to have the program even before the school submitted an application."

One of the places on the application is for the name of an attorney to help if the school already has one in mind.

Albright said that training might be conducted during the school year if there is enough interest at a later date. Even if teachers take the time from their teaching schedules for the training, they would still be paid for those days because the training is school-related, which might be more appealing than summer training.

 
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