Schools and Justice

Zero-tolerance refers to a philosophy or policy that mandates the application of predetermined consequences, most often severe and punitive in nature, that are intended to be applied regardless of the seriousness of the behavior, mitigating circumstances, or situational context. Since the implementation of zero tolerance policies in schools, the rates of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to the juvenile justice system have skyrocketed. Further, zero tolerance policies – coupled with responses to truancy and other rule violations that encourage school disengagement – have the unintended consequence of leading to behaviors that increase the likelihood that students will misbehave again, and ultimately, become involved in the juvenile justice system. In response to these practices and the subsequent stress placed on juvenile courts, juvenile and family court judges across the country are actively developing and testing collaborative approaches to reduce the school-to-juvenile justice pipeline. These approaches often involve bringing pertinent stakeholders together to discuss the problem, identify a solution (i.e., reduce the number of referrals to the juvenile court), and create a protocol that can be used to achieve the identified goal.

In 2012, the NCJFCJ passed a resolution in support of courts and schools working together to ensure educational opportunities for all children and to reduce inappropriate referrals to court. Further, the NCJFCJ was awarded funding from several foundations and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention for a project to develop, test, and disseminate judicially-led protocols to reduce school push out and inappropriate referrals to court. Listed below is more information related to the project. 

The NCJFCJ offers training, technical assistance, and publications focusing on the many challenging issues that professionals struggle with on a daily basis.

  • Request technical assistance
    Get answers to the question you have about how the courts are dealing with schools and justice. If you would like to submit a technical assistance request, please contact Cheri Ely at (775) 507-4797 or cely@ncjfcj.org.
  • Browse publications
    The NCJFCJ has an extensive library of schools and justice-related publications.

School-Justice Partnership Project

In October 2014, the NCJFCJ was awarded funding by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support the School-Justice Partnership Project. The purpose of this subject is to enhance collaboration and coordination among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement and juvenile justice officials to help students succeed in school and prevent negative outcomes for youth and communities. 

OJJDP is partnering with the Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to implement a multidisciplinary initiative to improve school climates, respond early and appropriately to student mental health and behavioral needs, avoid referring students to law enforcement and juvenile justice as a disciplinary response, and facilitate a proactive and supportive school reentry process in the rare instances in which a youth is referred. The larger goal of the project is to enhance collaboration and coordination among schools, mental and behavioral health specialists, law enforcement and juvenile justice officials at the local level to ensure adults have the support, training, and a shared framework to help students succeed in school and prevent negative outcomes for youth and communities.

Visit the School-Justice Partnership National Resource Center at www.SchoolJusticePartnership.org to access the latest resources and tools about improving school climate, mental and behavioral health of youth, building a collaborative and trauma-informed care. 
 
Resources and Tools
 

School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System Project: A Practice Guide - published as part of a larger project addressing school discipline referrals to the juvenile justice system. The project aims to reduce the number of referrals to the juvenile justice system for school based behaviors through the establishment and collaboration of judicially led court/school partnerships. The practice guide is intended to provide the multi-system collaborative in each of the 16 demonstration sites with thorough and thoughful guidance on implementing judicially led collaborations to address "school pathways to the juvenile justice system." The structure, directions, and recommendations throughout the guide are the product of several months of consultation and collaboration with juvenile and family court judges and other juvenile justice and school system experts. The processes described emulate those of successful collaboratives in jurisdictions across the country, including Georgia, Connecticut and California. Click here to download a copy of the guide.    

 

Technical Assistance Bulletin - published as part of a larger project addressing school discipline referrals to the juvenile justice system. The project aims to reduce the number of referrals to the juvenile justice system for school based behaviors through the establishment and collaboration of judically led courts/school partnerships. Th bulletin was published to provide a context for courts and schools regarding the need to reduce the number of referral courts, along with a history and impact of zero tolerance policies. The bulletin serves as introduction to the issue of school discipline referrals to the justice system, while the soon to be released Practice Guide explains the process to be used by judicially led court/school partnerships to reduce the number of referrals. Click here to download a copy of the bulletin.  

Articles and Bulletins

For additional information on schools and justice work by reviewing the publications that have been published by the NCJFCJ and related agencies. Read more... 

Forms/Policies/Protocols

To view templates and examples of forms, policies, and protocols being used by local jurisdictions and related agencies working to eliminate the school-to-juvenile justice pipeline. Read more...

Reports and Research

The following reports and research highlight the work of national organizations and related agencies working to eliminate the school-to-juvenile justice pipeline. Read more...

Programs and Models

The following model templates highlight the work of national organizations and related agencies working to eliminate the school-to-juvenile justice pipeline.