Tuesday, November 27, 2018

School Suspension Rate Disparities: San Diego

school suspension
Last week, the State of California released school suspension data and takeaways are, at best, concerning. At The Law Offices of Katie Walsh school suspension and expulsion is a topic of vital importance; much of the work we do is representing juveniles who have had problems in the classroom. We follow the data carefully to serve our clients better; we have covered the topic of student suspensions on our blog on numerous occasions, please click here for further reading.

It will probably come as little surprise for some to discover that there are glaring disparities in school suspension and expulsion rates in the ‘Golden State.’ For others, what follows may come as a shock. While suspension rates in San Diego County are down from 4.5 percent in 2011-2012 to 2.8 percent for 2017-2018, minorities and foster children are at a much higher risk of being barred from attending class, The San Diego Tribune reports. Overall, black students in San Diego County are more than two times as likely to face suspension. What’s more, foster kids are nearly five times more likely to get suspended from school.

“The very students who do need that additional time and supports, like foster youth, are the ones who are being sent out of the classroom,” said Carrie Hahnel, interim co-executive director of Ed Trust-West.

Disparities In Suspension Rates


The trend researchers are witnessing is not unique to California; one need look no further than the United States Government Accountability Office’s report on K–12 education to find evidence. Across the country, school discipline disparities for black students and young people with disabilities is alarming. Here in California, more than 15,000 students in San Diego County were suspended at least once, according to the article.

Even though suspension involves older students more often, about 1,500 students of the overall tally were in grades K–3. While African American students make up only 5 percent of those attending class in San Diego County, they make-up 7% of suspensions for students suspended at least once in the school year. The California Department of Education tracks suspension rates across the state, the data for San Diego County is as follows:
  • Foster Youth: 13.5 percent
  • African-American: 6.9 percent
  • Disabled Students: 5.7 percent
  • Homeless: 5.5 percent
  • Socioeconomically Disadvantaged: 3.8 percent
  • Hispanic or Latino: 3.2 percent
  • English Learners: 2.8 percent
  • White: 2.1 percent
  • Asian: 1 percent
“Studies we reviewed suggest that implicit bias — stereotypes or unconscious associations about people — on the part of teachers and staff may cause them to judge students' behaviors differently based on the students’ race and sex,” the GAO writes.

School suspension data is of the utmost importance for several reasons, most notably, the impact missing class can have on a student’s life trajectory. Those who miss school are at far higher risk of dropping out, getting in more severe forms of trouble, and ending up in jail or prison. Supporting students rather than relying on suspension and expulsion as the go-to form of discipline, isn’t just right for the student, it’s good for society.


Orange County Juvenile Defense


A minor infraction in school can have a lasting effect on a person’s life. If your child is facing expulsion, then we implore you to contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh will work tirelessly to safeguard your child’s rights and negotiate alternatives to expulsion.

Friday, November 16, 2018

LA County Considers Expanding SB 439

juvenile justice
We covered an essential story about new juvenile justice legislation signed into law last month. In the 11th hour of Governor Jerry Brown's fourth term he signed Senate Bill 439 and Senate Bill 1391 into law, both measures will go into effect across the state next year. SB 439 establishes 12 years as the minimum age for prosecution in juvenile court, but a dispensation will be made for offenses such as murder or rape. SB 1391 makes it unlawful to try youths under the age of 16 as an adult.

While the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is busy coming up with a plan for serving children under age 12 who find themselves in trouble, the committee is hopeful that they can take an even more progressive step. Board members are considering banning many 12- and 13-year-old youths from juvenile delinquency court, The Chronicle for Social Change reports. The proposal is welcome news by juvenile justice advocates.

“L.A. County can lead the state of California further to ensure that children aren’t negatively impacted by the effects of arrest and incarceration on youth,” said Maria Brenes, executive director of the Boyle Heights-based nonprofit Inner City Struggle. “The impact of system involvement are dismal for our children. Youth are 39 percentage points less likely to finish public school than their peers after experiencing incarceration or detention.”

Implementing Juvenile Justice Reforms


A board motion, titled Setting a Minimum Age for Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Justice System, points out that there were just over 100 12-year olds and just over 350 13 year-olds arrested in the County last year. Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas write that SB 439 sets a floor, and they MOVE that the Board of Supervisors direct the Office of Diversion and Reentry’s (ODR’s) division on Youth Diversion and Development to report back in writing in 60 days with a status report and in 120 days with a comprehensive plan (Plan) to divert younger youth from juvenile court jurisdiction and detention by:

A. Authorizing the Director of ODR, or his designee, to hire a consultant with relevant expertise to support ODR in the development of the Plan.

B. Ensuring the Plan does the following:
  1. Build on the County’s current youth diversion and development efforts;
  2. At a minimum, comply with the recently passed Senate Bill 439;
  3. Include as a first priority a specific plan for the pending or active cases, over which the Juvenile Court is expected to lose jurisdiction in January 2019;
  4. Identify holistic programming and services for youth and families based on best practices, focused on positive youth development, that may be appropriate for younger youth;
  5. Consistent with the County’s current youth diversion plan, utilize “counsel and release” as the default in the vast majority of these cases and graduated responses thereafter, with Dependency Court jurisdiction to be a last resort; and
  6. Include recommendations regarding the minimum age for arrest and confinement of youth for Los Angeles County, including expanding on the requirements set by SB 439, based on a review of best practices, and relevant research.
The supervisors argue that, "the County has an opportunity, based on best practices and the efforts on youth development and diversion, along with the dual-status work it has already begun, to provide leadership to other counties across the State, and to reduce disparities in outcomes for young people based on geographical location, and racial and ethnic identity."


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


At The Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in advocating for the families whose children find themselves facing legal difficulty. What sets Attorney Walsh apart from other juvenile justice lawyers is the fact that she is familiar with both sides of the courtroom, having dealt with thousands of criminal and juvenile cases as a former prosecutor. She will use her experience to serve your family and help bring about the best possible outcome; please contact us today for a free consultation if your son or daughter requires assistance.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act

At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act
If you have been keeping up on the news related to the American opioid addiction epidemic plaguing the United States, then you are likely aware of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. The new legislation – recently signed into law by the current administration – aims to address several aspects of the public health crisis we face. The SUPPORT Act isn’t just one bill; it is instead a package of measures each specific to one point of the issue or another; seventy unique bills in total 

Some of the SUPPORT Act’s more notable features include channeling more funds to expand access to addiction treatment, prevent overprescribing, and training law enforcement to be more effective at intercepting fentanyl shipments. Other provisions involve improving care and support for substance-exposed babies and their mothers and expanding an existing program to train more first responders to carry and use the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Those keeping themselves apprised of news relating to the epidemic know that there isn’t a demographic who has been untouched by the scourge of opioid use. Sadly, for a significant number of teenagers and young adults, many of whom come from dysfunctional homes, support is a scarce and they are in the grips of addiction. Moreover, like adults, young people face the risk of arrest and spending time in juvenile detention facilities.

The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act


Upon release from detention, young people often lack the support necessary to foster lasting recovery. Without assistance, the likelihood of recidivism is exceedingly high. What’s more, those same young people find that they have lost Medicaid as a result of their arrest and conviction, and no longer have a means of covering the cost of physical and mental healthcare professionals.

The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act, reintroduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), orders state Medicaid programs to suspend, not terminate, a juvenile’s coverage when he or she is in custody. Congressman Tony C├írdenas (D-CA) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) led an effort in the House of Representatives to include the bill in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, ensuring that children who serve time in the juvenile justice system continue to receive health care coverage and treatments during and after their release from custody. C├írdenas writes:

 “The At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act will keep young American Medicaid recipients from being permanently kicked off their healthcare if they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Right now, these young people suffer greatly when they return home to find they can no longer see their doctor, especially if they are recovering from addiction. This law will end this practice, which will help the children, their families and the communities where they live.”


Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney


If your son or daughter is facing legal trouble in California, please reach out to The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Juvenile defense attorney Walsh has a proven record of advocating for families who find themselves in the hardest and most vulnerable situations. Call now for a free, confidential consultation, (714) 619-9355.