Courtroom inside Reading High School?

READING, Pa. - November 11, 2009

The school has long been plagued with problems linked to truancy and violence.

Those are problems worsened by the fact that the on-site security force looks over 4,500 students inside a structure built for 3,000.

Some students told Action News it sometimes feels like Reading High School was built inside a pressure cooker.

"The education here, but the fights... It's getting out of hand," said senior Xavier Alicea.

"I think it's going to get more violent," said Sophomore Hay Herrera.

District officials say a courtroom inside the building brings with it an automatic intimidation factor against the students prone to violence.

It also offers the court system a much quicker way to process truents and deliver them directly to their classrooms.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Chapman says it will send a strong, but positive, message.

"We need our children to understand, and our families in our communities to understand, the school is not the street. School is an opportunity, but it's also a privilege," he said.

Meanwhile, Action News found two parents with very different views on the proposal.

"If you were an adult, you'd be tried and convicted in a court. So, what's the difference of having a child's court house? I think it's a great idea," said Alicia Ascher.

"I think it almost does send the message that there's nothing left to do," said Jamica Andrews. "It's saying the majority of them are criminals, having the courthouse right there, and I don't agree with that."

City officials say there are many details to hammer out, but there could be a courtroom in the school by the end of the school year.

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