TC District, Navajo prosecutor partner in student prevention

Peterson Wilson presents to TC Junior and Senior High

From left: Adelbert Goldtooth, Lee Tsingine, Sherry Wells, Jackie Wauneka and Peterson Wilson (Photo by Byron Poocha).

From left: Adelbert Goldtooth, Lee Tsingine, Sherry Wells, Jackie Wauneka and Peterson Wilson (Photo by Byron Poocha).

TUBA CITY-Peterson Wilson, a 1989 alumnus of Tuba City High School, is taking his education and policy development to a personal level locally by assisting the Western Navajo Agency in development of student strategies to prevent crime, drug abuse and physical violence for Navajo, Hopi and non-Native students living and going to school in Tuba City and the surrounding reservation areas.

In a special one-day presentation supported by Tuba City Chief Judge Jennifer Benally, Navajo Nation Prosecutor Peterson Wilson met with TC High principal Jacquelyn Wauneka and TC Junior High principal Lee Tsingine along with district-wide counselor Cheri Wells, TCUSD associate superintendent for Human Resources Personnel Management Adelbert Goldtooth, Special Education director Sandra Roe and TCUSD superintendent Eugene Thomas to discuss current Navajo Nation policies concerning student incarceration, new reservation area laws on public information regarding student personal records, cross jurisdiction, custody laws, PEACEMAKER court, court fines imposed for law breaking parents and students, agency referring policy considerations and tribal support partnering with the Hopi Tribe on students who are enrolled with the Hopi Tribe but have been arrested on Navajo reservation land.

There are currently only three probation officers serving the entire Western Navajo agency, but Wilson is optimistic that both Hopi villages in the Moencopi area located next to Tuba City will enforce and endorse a more culturally humanistic approach to rehabilitating youth, encouraging these students to choose a safer, more productive and healthy lifestyle in lieu of a gangster attitude.

Wilson is working with current Chief Hopi Tribal Prosecutor Dorma Nevayaktewa at the Hopi Tribal Courts to find methods that will prevent further crime and drug activity for students utilizing community service assignments as their punishment and restitution instead of just jail time in an off-reservation area juvenile facility or a stiff and costly monetary fine for their parents to pay.

Both Wilson and Nevayaktewa have found that current tribal court student prosecution assigned to serving real jail time does not deter these students from more crime activity, but only serves to teach problem students additional, negative "survival skills" while they are serving time with other incarcerated students at the juvenile jail facility.

Wilson said that in his prosecution work, he likes to try to think of more positive prevention methods to keep kids from doing jail time, that he is "not here to punish students," but to show them better ways to conduct their personal lives.

Both the Tuba City Junior High and the Tuba City High School will be scheduling several community based information sharing sessions in the next few months that will feature Gang Prevention Specialist Chris Grant.

These sessions will apprise parents and local community members on the changes in juvenile law, how to recognize and interpret "gang tag signs" and behaviors and will suggest partnership ways that schools, parents and local law enforcement authorities can actively work together on to provide a more nurturing and constructive, safe community and school environment for our reservation young adults and children.

For more information about these upcoming Tuba City District sponsored violence and drug prevention sessions and upcoming information about Gang Specialist Chris Grant, call the Tuba City District Office of Public Relations at (928) 283-1185.

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