Resource center offers school-justice collaboration examples

November 24, 2015

Key points:
  • Website provides exemplars of discipline policies
  • Aimed at preventing unnecessary court referrals
  • Provides TA on creating school-justice partnerships
Schools that want to create positive relationships with their resource officers to prevent unnecessary referrals to courts can now look for examples of best practices from the National Resource Center on School-Justice Partnerships.
 
Although the launch of the center this November came in the wake of an October incident in which a police officer responding to a discipline infraction forcibly removed a South Carolina high school student from her classroom, "the timing of the launch of the resource center and news accounts regarding school resource officers was a coincidence," Juvenile Justice Program Director Cheri Ely told Education Daily®.
 
 
"The NCJFCJ spent over six months to develop the resource center in order to ensure that it is user-friendly and encompasses many resources, tools and information valuable to school-justice partnerships," Ely said.
 
OJJDP's School Justice Partnership Project is collaborating with the Education Department and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 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," according to the project description.
 
Initiatives
OJJDP awarded funding to NCJFCJ in Oct. 2014 to create a resource repository and provide technical assistance to stakeholders, including a group of 19 sites that received OJJDP or NCJFCJ grants to reform policies to prevent referrals of students to courts.
 
The resource center features information for schools, educators, school resource officers, and mental health providers, and also includes examples of what 19 localities across the U.S. are doing in collaboration with school districts to reduce court referrals for students.
 
Among those examples are:
  • The Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District in California is addressing elementary school truancy and parental engagement in its initiative.
  • Muskego in Wisconsin is working on "identification of universal definitions for relevant terms and development of a code of conduct that can be applied to all [16] school districts," according to the resource center.
  • New Haven County in Connecticut is working on "development of consistent focus acts aimed at determining which acts necessitate an arrest, and the assumptions that must be made before determining if arrest is the most adequate course of action," according to the center.
  • Mecklenburg County in North Carolina has memoranda of understanding between school resource officers and educators about how to respond to school discipline issues, according to the center.
Funding for 16 of the 19 projects was provided in 2012 from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System Project, Ely said.
 
Additionally, schools can receive technical assistance by submitting a request here. "Examples of common technical assistance requests that we receive are for the identification of school discipline diversion programs, sample inter-agency agreements on information sharing or school discipline codes and assistance with developing local school-justice partnerships and strengthening the collaboration," Ely said.
 
She explained that onsite TA could include "providing a training, facilitating a strategic planning or resource mapping session, or providing observation and assessment of local programs. . . . When we provide onsite technical assistance, we strongly encourage local school-justice partnerships to engage all partners during our visit to include, but not limited to representatives from the education, justice, law enforcement and mental health systems."
 
--Wangui Njuguna covers teacher quality and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.
 
Reprinted with permission from: Education Daily®. © 2015 LRP Publications, 360 Hiatt Drive, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418. All rights reserved. For more information on this or other products published by LRP Publications, please call 1-800-341-7874 or visit our website at: www.shoplrp.com.

 

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