Tuesday, July 24, 2018

California's Board of Education Approves ESSA

ESSA
This month, California’s Board of Education approved a final version of its state accountability plan known as the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA. The law, passed in 2015, governs the United States K–12 public education policy. The LA School Report points out that ESSA requires each state had to determine a method of evaluating schools that did not focus on academics. While most states are relying on chronic absenteeism as an indicator of student success, California is instead looking at suspension rates as well as the college and career indicator.

“California has the most ambitious plan in the nation to give additional resources to students with the greatest needs as we prepare all students for college and 21st century careers,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. “The ESSA plan approved today will support those efforts.”

It took some time to get there, 18 months of hearings, but U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approved the California plan, leaving only New York yet to receive approval. California, through ESSA, should be getting about $2.6 billion this year in funding through ESSA, according to EdSource.


How Will California Use the Funding?


  • About $1.8 billion goes to low-income students.
  • $128 million to migrant children under Title I.
  • About $230 million go towards training and recruiting teachers and school leaders under Title II.
  • About $6 million could go toward training principals on new academic standards.
  • About $150 million is for language instruction under Title III.
  • About $180 million goes toward academic enrichment, after-school programs, and improving school climate, under Title IV.

“California is a national leader in supporting students with extra needs, providing local control over spending, encouraging community participation in schools, and releasing critical information on measures that indicate student success,” said California State Board of Education President, Michael W. Kirst. “Our ESSA plan allows that work to continue.”


Orange County School Expulsion Hearings


If your son or daughter is facing a school expulsion hearing in California, please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. We can help you navigate the school discipline process and advocate for your child, safeguarding their rights. Attorney Walsh has extensive experience in the juvenile court system.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SB 439: Keeping Children from Juvenile Justice

SB 439
Last summer, we discussed several bills being considered by the California State Senate, including Senate Bill 439 (SB-439). As is the case with most legislation we focus on, SB 439 centers on juvenile justice, explicitly keeping most youngsters under the age of 12 out of courtrooms and into alternative programs for discipline.

SB 439 made it through the Senate, and if the bill makes its way to the Governor’s desk, it would mean two significant changes for California counties with regard to the handling of children ages 11 and under. First, minors whose behavior and actions are cause for concern by authorities must be released to his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver; except, if the crime involves an act of murder or rape with force, violence, or threat of great bodily harm. Secondly, the bill requires counties to “develop a process for determining the least restrictive responses that may be used instead of, or in addition to, the release of the minor to his or her parent, guardian, or caregiver."

Researchers at UCLA analyzed California Department of Justice data and found that only a small number of kids under twelve find their way into the clutches of the juvenile justice system, according to Press-Telegram. The analysis showed that eighty-five percent of the 452 referrals of 11-year-olds to the courts were closed or diverted from the system at the beginning of the cases. However, for the slight number of kids that are not so fortunate, the juvenile justice system can mark the start of more problems in life.


Strong Opposition to SB 439


“The vast majority of young children in California who’ve been accused of an offense are exhibiting behaviors or minor behaviors that did not require any justice involvement,” said State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), the bill’s co-sponsor. “Involvement with the juvenile justice system can be harmful to a child’s health and development.”

Sen. Mitchell’s views are not shared by law enforcement organization throughout the state and are pushing back hard trying to encourage those who are considering the legislation to bar its moving forward, the article reports. Last month, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reached out to the committee stating that the juvenile justice system is the only way to rehabilitate children and keep the public safe. Tamar Tokat from the L.A. County District Attorney’s office says there is “no alternative” to serious criminal cases involving children. Most of the bill's opponents cite troubling cases involving the most extreme of offenses to make their point; the California District Attorneys Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the Chief Probation Officers of California are among those opposing SB 439’s passing.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops. As an aside, if you are on the lookout for some summer reading material, The Evolution of the Juvenile Court: Race, Politics, and the Criminalizing of Juvenile Justice by Barry C. Feld might be the book for you.

“As a juvenile court jurist of almost 20 years, a reformer for most of those years and an adjunct law professor, I can adamantly state that this book is not only a must read, but should be added to the reading lists of those studying juvenile justice, including law students,” writes Judge Steven Teske on the Juvenile Justice Information exchange.


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


The Law Offices of Katie Walsh can help your son or daughter who is facing criminal charges or school expulsion. Our team of legal experts will advocate for your child and assist them in achieving the most favorable outcome in their case. Please contact us today.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

ACLU Addresses Youth Accountability Team

Youth Accountability Team Program
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Northern California, San Diego, and the National Center for Youth Law are suing over the unfair practices used by the Riverside County Youth Accountability Team Program (YAT). According to the ACLU, YAT was created in 2001 to target at-risk youths for intervention. On the surface, such a program appears to be relatively benign; however, the tactics deployed treat adolescents who have not been convicted of crimes as criminals. The idea is that teens who seem to be on the edge of engaging in nefarious deeds can be scared straight.

The organization points out that programs like YAT do not have the intended effect on young people, and often do more harm to a child than good. The program is not a diversion; it is a facet of the Riverside County’s probation department. Youngsters who act up or have low marks in class are singled out and forced into six-month terms of probation. The ACLU contends that YAT is unconstitutional; kids who have committed no misdeeds are made to waive their First and Fourth Amendment rights, and subject to “invasive probation conditions.” Sarah Hinger, Staff Attorney, ACLU Racial Justice Program and Sylvia Torres-GuillĂ©n, Director of Education Equity, ACLU Foundations of California, write that:

“Children and their families are not provided with specific information about the offense they are accused of committing, the terms of YAT probation, the possible consequences of going to court, or advisement of their legal rights.”

Counseling, Instead of Probation



The ACLU states that YAT is the product of an outdated “incorrigibility” law; students are subject to prosecution for merely not complying with school faculty. Kids who may have learning disabilities or problems at home which impact their ability to do well in school are needlessly being funneled into the juvenile justice system. The organization says the practice disproportionately affects Black and Latino children throughout the county.

A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that youths are more responsive to positive incentives and supports than threats of punishment. Instead of putting guilt-free kids on probation, the ACLU would like to focus on supporting struggling children by way of counseling.

“The constitutional deficiencies of Riverside’s YAT Program are clear, and the program will continue to violate children’s rights until it is reformed. But reforming the program will not only protect their rights, it presents an opportunity to provide a model for bringing juvenile probation and diversion in line with contemporary research on adolescent development.”

Treating young people as criminals before they ever commit a crime increases the likelihood of problems developing down the road. There is already plenty of research to support diversion over detention for juveniles; so, it is not challenging to see how counseling would be more beneficial than probation for kids struggling in school. More times than not, the farther kids are from the juvenile justice system, the better!

Orange County Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney


Please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh if your child is facing criminal charges or school expulsion. Attorney Walsh and her team of legal professionals can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your son or daughter.