The Community Relations Service (CRS), of the United States Department of Justice, was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to assist state and local units of government, private and public organizations, secondary schools, educational institutions, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions and conflicts, with the intent of restoring racial stability and harmony. CRS also works with these parties to help communities prevent and respond more effectively to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.
Nearly twenty-five years ago, CRS recognized the value of student problem solving of racial issues and created a program called Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (S.P.I.R.I.T.). Since then, CRS has applied the principles of mediation, problem solving, and full engagement of the school community, to help create a climate of respect and understanding in schools. SPIRIT brings students, administrators, teachers, and parents together to identify issues, so they may develop their own solutions, and take ownership of the actions they deem most appropriate to resolve the conflicts within their schools.
At the request of the Coatesville Area School District, CRS conducted S.P.I.R.I.T. at Coatesville Area Senior High School located at 1425 East Lincoln Highway, Coatesville, Pennsylvania, 19320. Building and improving race relations and establishing an understanding of the needs of students were the main objectives. This report reflects the issues identified by the students and their recommended solutions. The role of CRS in this two-day SPIRIT activity was that of providing the methodology and problem identifications and resolutions processes that assisted the students in arriving at their own solutions.