IOWA CITY — Start small.
That was the goal of police, school, court and other officials in the first year of a Juvenile Court diversion program that aimed to reduce the number of children in the court system. To that end, officials focused solely on cases of disorderly conduct.
Rather than face court dates and a criminal record at an early age, offenders of high school and junior high school age were given the opportunity to do community service and actions designed to make them think about their actions and consequences.
Now, as the Iowa City Community School District’s academic year draws to a close, those officials are looking back on the term — and the first year of the diversion program — and assessing its impact.
And while authorities do not yet have end-of-year numbers on the program’s success, they are confident enough in the program’s strength and shifting attitudes about juvenile discipline that they intend to expand its reach in the coming school year.