The District of Columbia has a longstanding problem of poor school attendance, significant suspension rates, high drop-out rates, and low levels of high school graduation. All of these impair the future prospects for the city’s children, public safety, and the economic vitality of the District of Columbia.
Keeping youth in school until graduation is important not only to their education; it can also provide protection from involvement in the juvenile justice system. Researchers have identified a strong link between students being suspended or expelled from school and their likelihood of becoming truant, dropping out, or engaging in criminal behavior. Researchers have also identified that school disciplinary actions disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged students and those with special needs, hastening or facilitating their entry into the justice system.
This CCE project will result in publication by 2014 of our findings and recommendations. The project committee may choose to report in two publications -- one providing a descriptive guide to public and charter school disciplinary procedures, to inform parents of their rights and options, and a second with data, analysis, and recommendations for reform -- or the committee may choose to combine both into one report.
CCE Led Training on the Attendance Accountability and Amendment Act and the Court
On March 28, 2014, Council for Court Excellence organized and facilitated a half day training on “The DC Accountability Amendment Act of 2013”: What You Need to Know about Truancy and the Court. The Family Court Training Committee of DC Superior Court hosted the training in the court’s Jurors’ Lounge where more than 100 attendees participated including judges, case intake court personnel, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other interested stakeholders. Participants learned about the new truancy law and what is required by the schools before referring a truancy case to the Family Court Social Services Division (FCSSD) and the DC Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
The training program involved representatives from the court, OAG, advocates for DC youth, and the schools. Presenters included Andrea Allen, Director of Student Attendance at DC Public Schools; Adrianne Day, Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the General Counsel for the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE); Kortne Edogun, Interim Policy Director for the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education at OSSE; Eddie Ferrer, Legal & Policy Director at DC Lawyers for Youth; Pauline Francis, Acting Program Manager for Juvenile Intake Services and Delinquency Branch, FCSSD, DC Superior Court; Lisa Geis, Clinical Instructor and Supervising Attorney at University of the District of Columbia (UDC), David A. Clarke School of Law; Rashida Kennedy, Manager of the Equity and Fidelity Assurance Team at Public Charter School Board; Dave Rosenthal, OAG; and Joe Tulman, Professor of Law at UDC, David A. Clarke School of Law.
Other Helpful Resources
- District of Columbia Truancy Prevention Guide
- Office of the State Superintendent of Education Truancy Prevention Resources
- Chapter Six, Using Special Education Advocacy To Avoid or Resolve Status Offense Charges, by Joseph B. Tulman
- Disability and Delinquency: How Failures to Identify, Accommodate, and Serve Youth with Education-Related Disabilities Leads to Their Disproportionate Representation in the Delinquency System, by Joseph B. Tulman
- Applying Disability Rights to Equalize Treatment for People with Disabilities in the Delinquency and Criminal Systems, by Joseph B. Tulman
- The Role of the Probation Officer in Intake: Stories from Before, During, and After the Delinquency Initial Hearing, by Joseph B. Tulman
Tulman, Joseph B., and Douglas M. Weck."Shutting Off the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Status Offenders with Education-Related Disabilities", New York Law School Law Review 54. (2009-2010)