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Sábado, 07 de Diciembre de 2019

Sala de Prensa

Chief Justice, Governor announce new push to break school-to-prison pipeline

Miércoles, 14 de Agosto de 2019 | América del Norte, Estados Unidos
NC Policy Watch
Noticia

GIBSONVILLE — The tobacco fields near East Guilford High School are reminders of bygone times when getting into trouble at school meant a trip to the principal’s office, and maybe a phone call to a child’s parents.

A paddling by the principal, now banned throughout North Carolina, and a severe scolding at home were about the worst outcomes for a student who misbehaved.

But the old ways of disciplining children at school are long gone. The most dramatic changes commenced about two decades ago when school districts began to adopt “zero-tolerance” policies for bad behavior.

Under zero tolerance policies, seemingly minor infractions committed at school can lead to an arrest and a court date, and that’s especially true if the offender is a child of color.

Cheri Beasley, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, wants to change how school discipline is handled by encouraging communities to form judge-driven “School Justice Partnerships” (SJPs).

The SJPs, made up of law enforcement officials, judges, district attorneys juvenile court counselors, teachers and school administrators, establish guidelines for school discipline in a way that minimizes suspensions, expulsions and school-based referrals to court for misconduct.

“The truth is that school discipline has changed dramatically over the last 20 years, and the thing we want do is to make sure arrest is used in only the most severe offenses,” Beasley said. “Last year, more than 11,000 children were referred to the juvenile justice system from the schools, and only a fraction of those offenses were serious ones.”

Beasley’s comments came during a press conference Monday at East Guilford High to announce the release of the SJP Toolkit, which is essentially a step-by-step guide that shows judges and others how to establish SJPs.

In North Carolina, school-based cases make up about 40 percent of the referrals to the juvenile justice system. Many of the referrals, which frequently clog overburdened courts, are for minor, nonviolent offenses. Only eight percent of school-based referrals were for serious offenses during the 2016-17 school year.

“This project is about helping kids stay in school and out of court for minor misconduct,” LaToya Powell, an assistant general counsel in the Office of General Counsel for the Judicial Branch, said later during a Back to School Safety Summit at UNC Greensboro.

Powell described minor misconduct as disobeying a teacher, getting into a fight that doesn’t result in serious injury or involve weapons or “accidentally causing an injury while playing a game of dodgeball.”

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