Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM)

CAJM STARTS A NEW YEAR!

It’s hard to believe, but with children going back to school, it feels like summer is winding down. As fall approaches, a new social justice cycle is beginning with the Charleston Area Justice Ministry. The tragic events of this summer have reminded us that there is much work yet to be done to bring justice to our community. Many of you know that the cycle begins with a listening process at House Meetings within each congregation—small groups get together to build relationships and to have meaningful conversations about injustices in our community. Those of you who are already members of a UC-CHS network will be hearing from your team leaders about the date of your House Meeting. If you are not yet a network member but are interested in joining a dynamic group focused on social justice, please let Diane Boyer know (dboyer@luc.edu), and she will make sure you get linked up with one of the church networks. On October 8 at 6 pm there will be a CAJM potluck in Gage Hall. All are welcome—those who have been active with CAJM and those who want to find out more about what is going on.

UPDATES ON PRIOR CAJM INITIATIVES:

City of Charleston Hiring Policy to employ young adults on publicly-funded construction projects:

A hiring policy has been proposed to the City Council, but CAJM would like the policy to be stronger. CAJM members are still working with the Council to try to get a stronger policy.

Wage Theft and the Wage Recovery Program:

The Charleston County Council voted 6-3 to fund the program, and South Carolina Legal Services has received the money from the county. Attorney Mary Platts is already at work and taking cases (843-266-2181; maryplatts@sclegal.org). She would like to come and share information about the program with CAJM congregations. Please thank the County Council members who voted “yes” on funding the program (Colleen Condon, Henry Darby, Teddy Pryor, Elliott Summey, Anna Johnson and Victor Rawl). Those voting against the program were Joseph Qualey, Dickie Schweers and Herbert Ravenel Sass.

High Rates of School Suspensions:

CAJM leaders met with the new Charleston School Superintendent, Dr. Postlewait,, to introduce her to the Justice Ministry and to touch base on the data and implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) and Restorative Justice (RJ). It was a very successful meeting! A great training for PBIS and RJ took place during the summer with principals, administration and key teachers at seven of our ten schools, and they all have a personalized Action Plan in place to continue the next phase of implementation. RJ has been expanded to five schools. Preliminary data shows amazing success in lowering suspension rates! Just to name a few examples, the suspension rate at Burns Elementary went from 29.4% to just 9.5%, Memminger Elementary saw a drop from 38.5% to 11.9% and West Ashley Middle School decreased from 35% to 21% in one year! Our next meeting with the District is on Tuesday, October 6 at 1:00 pm.

—Diane Boyer