Wednesday, December 26, 2018

School Safety Commission Report: Response

At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we would like to draw your attention to the California School Dashboard. The California School Dashboard is the place where parents, families, students, and teachers can see how well our schools and students are doing and where improvement is warranted. Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject.

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, discusses the Dashboard in an issued statement regarding the report of the federal School Safety Commission. In Torlakson’s statement, he makes clear that the recommendations of the commission (put together in response to the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School shooting) are made in error.

Disciplining Students in a Proportionate, Fair Manner

California School Dashboard
“I am extremely disappointed that the School Safety Commission report contains a misguided recommendation to eliminate a policy that has nothing to do with the continuing tragedy of school shootings—the quest for disciplining students in a proportionate, fair manner,” states Torlakson.

He adds, “I strongly oppose this recommendation and the Department of Education’s reported plans to rescind the Obama administration’s guidance encouraging schools to work to reduce the disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates for students of color and students with disabilities that are found throughout our nation …. California encourages districts to reduce or eliminate disparities in discipline given out to student groups. The California School Dashboard reveals the suspension rates of all student groups, supplying the data needed to take action to ensure equity for all students.”

The superintendent’s statement points out that the School Safety Commission's report had little to say about gun control. A military-style assault weapon was used in the killing of 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneham Douglas. It is unclear, at this time, why the School Safety Commission believes eliminating policies which make school discipline fairer will make the student body safer.

Juvenile Defense Attorney

Hiring an Orange County school expulsion lawyer can help your child achieve a favorable outcome in a school expulsion hearing. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation with juvenile defender Katie Walsh and her team. Call 714.619.9355 or submit a confidential inquiry now.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Supporting Juvenile Justice Reform

juvenile justice
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) a non-profit law firm based in Oakland, California, helps low-income children and aims to transform the multiple public systems serving vulnerable children. The organization leads campaigns to reform education, child welfare, public health, behavioral health, juvenile justice, and workforce development.

In the realm of juvenile justice, the NCYL’s noteworthy success includes Breed v. Jones (1975) and the Texas Decriminalization of Truancy (2014), according to their website. Regarding the former, the organization successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court “that the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy is applicable to minors in delinquency proceedings.” The Texas Decriminalization of Truancy ended the practice of sending truant children to adult criminal court. 

The NYCL has worked for more than four decades to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people across the country. The non-profit continues to advocate for the rights and safety of children and teenagers, and thanks to a hefty donation their efforts can continue.

Google and SF 49ers Support Youth Justice Reform

Earlier in December, Google and the San Francisco 49er football team donated $2.35 million to the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), according to The Chronicles of Social Change. The funds will give the NCYL the ability to work with more than 300 youth per year in Santa Clara County – who are either arrested or placed on probation – as part of the California Youth Justice Initiative.

“We’re doing a comprehensive approach of deep-end and shallow-end reform, and then we’re also working with probation-involved youth to make sure they graduate, get a job or get on a good career track,” said Frankie Guzman, director of the California Youth Justice Initiative. 

The NYCL’s California Youth Justice Initiative advances policies and practices rooted in positive youth development, the organization reports. The goals of the initiative include:
  • Empowering formerly incarcerated youth and their families to advocate for change.
  • Providing legal and strategic support to community organizations working to improve local policies and practice.
  • Advocating for community-based services that address youth’s social-emotional health needs as an alternative to incarceration.
“Once you get in the system it’s very difficult to make it out,” said Richard Sherman, a defensive back with 49ers. “It’s very difficult to learn what you need to do to be in the workforce, to be a great person because you spend so much time trying to survive the situations you’re put in.”

California Juvenile Law

Please contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh to find out more about how we can advocate for your family. If your child is in trouble and was arrested, it is likely that you would like the assistance of an attorney with a proven record in the area of juvenile law. Attorney Walsh can help your family obtain the best results.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act

In 1974, Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Lawmakers wrote the bill to address some of the glaring inconsistencies in approaches to juvenile justice from one state to the next.

Most Americans are unaware that there are more than 56 different juvenile justice systems in the U.S. Each of which is independently operated, and there were no federal standards for care before the JJDPA. Sadly, Congress hasn't reauthorized the legislation since 2002.

It was beginning to look like 2018 is the year that lawmakers were going to see past their differences and reauthorize the law, but child advocates are no longer sure. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has spent the last four years championing the bill, which gave much hope; however, as Grassley prepares to step down from chairmanship his focus is now on a different criminal justice reform bill, The Huffington Post reports. Before lawmakers break for the holidays, the First Step Act is in the spotlight.

What is the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act

The JJDPA, according to ACT4 Juvenile Justice, creates a federal-state partnership for the administration of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention by providing:
  • Juvenile justice planning and advisory system, establishing State Advisory Groups (SAGs), spanning all states, territories and the District of Columbia;
  • Federal funding for delinquency prevention and improvements in state and local juvenile justice programs; and
  • Operation of a federal agency (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)) dedicated to training, technical assistance, model programs, and research and evaluation, to support state and local efforts.

Reauthorizing the JJDPA

Supporters of the JJDPA in Congress are just one vote away from achieving the goal of reauthorization, according to the article. The hang-up rests on two senators disagreeing over whether the JJDPA should be reauthorized together with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) says that reauthorizing the acts together would reduce Runaway and Homeless Youth Act funding by 23 percent and would fail to protect trafficked youths; Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) sees the matter differently.

“Sen. Grassley has the power of persuasion,” said Sarah Bryer, the president and executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “[He] has the ability to talk to his peers in the Senate and get them to agree to stand down on their issues and stand up for young people.”

Now, it seems that Sen. Grassley has pivoted attention away from juvenile justice and is instead working to enact criminal justice reform. The First Step Act centers around prison reform, reducing sentences, and rehabilitation.

“At this point, he is spending all of his political clout on the First Step Act,” said Rachel Marshall, the federal policy counsel for Campaign for Youth Justice. “And while criminal justice reform is extraordinarily important, it’s not an either/or, in my view.”

We will continue to follow this story as it develops; if the bill doesn't receive authorization by the time the session ends, lawmakers will have to start over next year. Hopefully, Grassley will manage to resolve the dispute before the end of his tenure.

Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney

If your child is facing legal challenges or school expulsion, please contact The Law Offices of Katie Walsh. Attorney Walsh's extensive experience in the field of juvenile justice makes her the perfect candidate to advocate for your family. Call now for a free, confidential consultation, (714) 619-9355.