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The Intersection of Juvenile Courts and Exclusionary School Discipline

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2017
24 pages
After examining the adverse consequences of using "zero tolerance" for school misbehavior and the use of suspension and expulsion as disciplinary responses by school administrations, this report suggests that juvenile justice system representatives work with school policymakers and administrators in reforming exclusionary school disciplinary policies and countering pathways that increase the risk that school disciplinary policies will lead to involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Most data indicate that exclusionary school disciplinary policies are ineffective in achieving their intended goals and can even contribute to less safe school environments. In addition, there is evidence that economically disadvantaged students and students of color are disproportionately affected by these policies, such that these groups are at higher risk of dropping out of school and subsequently becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. This report advocates the development of interagency collaboration through policymaking bodies that include representatives of the justice system, schools, and appropriate community groups. Such a body will examine school disciplinary policies; their effects; the factors that place school-age youth at risk of justice-system involvement; and how the school, the justice system, and community resources can be more effective in guiding the positive development of children and youth. This report notes that a number of school diversion programs have been successfully implemented throughout the nation to decrease the number of school-based referrals to law enforcement and/or juvenile court. Examples are provided from communities in Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada. 1 table and 24 references

Date Published: October 1, 2017