Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Summit

A resolution declaring Dec 4, 2013, "Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Day" is signed by the Chief Justice following a presentation by Justice Richard Huffman, chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Children in Foster Care, and Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie, chair of the BRC Truancy/School Discipline Workgroup.
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (right) signs a resolution declaring Dec 4, 2013, "Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Day", with Justice Richard Huffman, chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on Children in Foster Care, and Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie, chair of the BRC Truancy/School Discipline Workgroup.

The Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Summit was held December 4, 2013, in Anaheim, California, in conjunction with the Beyond the Bench conference.

A pre-Summit day of workshops and presentations focused on promising interventions, followed by a team debriefing where the Chief Justice provided appreciation for the day's work.

The Summit brought together judicial officers, educators, juvenile justice and child welfare professionals, and community leaders to:

  • Spotlight the problem of truancy and school discipline policies that put California’s children at greater risk of juvenile and criminal justice system involvement;
  • Highlight some successful solutions to the problem; and
  • Engage local teams to return to their home counties with a strategy to keep kids in school and out of court.

The summit featured speakers addressing the challenges and promises of a new focus on truancy and school discipline policies from both a federal and statewide perspective to include the Chief Justice, the Superintendent of Public Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Attorney General; and local team building activities aimed at galvanizing county teams to establish effective court-based or other programs in their own communities. For more details, view the Summit Agenda.

For more information on the history of the summit, view this press release or listen to the audio excerpt from August 23 Judicial Council meeting.

Below you will find informative handouts developed for the summit's various workshops.

A1. Youth Courts: Creating Positive Alternatives to the Traditional Juvenile Justice System

Youth courts, also known as peer, teen, or student courts, provide an alternative approach to the traditional juvenile justice system for first-time, non-violent offenders. A youth charged with an offense can choose to forego the hearing and sentencing procedures of the juvenile courts; instead, he or she agrees to a sentencing forum composed of the youth’s peers. Juvenile offenders who participate in the youth court program avoid a criminal record while still being held accountable for their actions. In many communities youth courts are a good option for youth who are truant or involved in other school-based offenses. Youth court has emerged as the fastest growing juvenile intervention program in the United States. In 1994, there were 78 youth courts in the U.S.; by 2013, there were approximately 1,100 youth courts in 49 states with hundreds more in various stages of implementation. In California, the number has grown from 2 in 1991 to more than 70 in 2013. During this session you will learn the steps on how to implement a youth court in your county and help make a difference in the lives of youth. Current Youth Court Directors will present information on four styles of youth courts and how each address a community need and youth who participate in these courts will talk about their experiences and the impacts of these courts on their peers.

Ms. Jo Ann Allen, Director, Santa Cruz County Teen Peer Court
Ms. Toni Stone, Executive Director, East Palo Alto Youth Court
Ms. Sacha Marini, Director, Humboldt County Teen Court - Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods
Mr. Mark Reddick, Coordinator, Riverside Police Department Youth Court
Ms. Karen Green, Coordinator, Placer County Peer Court
Ms. Devon Walker, Youth Participant, Humboldt County Teen Court
Mr. Hart Fogel, Youth Participant, Marin County Youth Court
Ms. Keisha Como, Youth Participant, Antelope Valley Community Youth Court
Ms. Shaundra Esparza, Youth Participant, Santa Cruz County Teen Peer Court
Mr. Austin Neri, Youth Participant, Eden Township Youth Court
Mr. Andrew Gomez, Youth Participant, El Rancho Teen Court

A2. Juvenile Justice Jeopardy: Engaging Youth in Critical Thinking About School Policies and Interactions with Adults

Many adults assume youth know right from wrong, legal from illegal; many youth assume they know their rights and how to assert them appropriately with authorities. Often both assumptions are incorrect. The Juvenile Justice Jeopardy uses an age-appropriate approach to teaching youth behaviors instead of rights.  Strategies for Youth will showcase two versions of the game. The first one, used in San Francisco, teaches youth how to navigate interactions with peers and authority and to be aware of short and long-term impacts of arrest and court involvement.  The second version is being used in Sacramento schools to teach students how to understand school roles, distinguish between school discipline and criminal offending, and understand that certain offenses may be punishable both by exclusion from school and arrest. The game also warns youth about strongly held but often incorrect beliefs regarding their privacy rights in public schools.  Routinely 80% of youth who play the game report that 50 to 75% of the information is new to them and that it will make them change how they act in the future.

Ms. Lisa H. Thurau, Executive Director, Strategies for Youth, Inc.
Ms. Devon Walker, Youth Participant, Humboldt County Teen Court
Mr. Hart Fogel, Youth Participant, Marin County Youth Court
Ms. Keisha Como, Youth Participant, Antelope Valley Community Youth Court
Ms. Shaundra Esparza, Youth Participant, Santa Cruz County Teen Peer Court
Mr. Austin Neri, Youth Participant, Eden Township Youth Court
Mr. Andrew Gomez, Youth Participant, El Rancho Teen Court


A3. It Takes A Community! Research & Action in Washington State

The science of trauma from adverse childhood experiences is resulting in real world changes in how systems work with children and families. Two colleagues from Washington State, one a school principal and the other a university-based intervention model researcher will discuss two related but distinct approaches to practical solutions. In the workshop, we will summarize the science driving this change, discuss the programs, and present early findings and lessons learned.
Dr. Christopher Blodgett, Director, Area Health Education Center of Eastern Washington, Washington State University
Mr. Jim Sporleder, Principal (2008-2013), Lincoln High School, Walla Walla, Washington

Handout 1
Handout 2

B1. Attendance Matters: Research-based Models to Address Chronic Absenteeism

Research has demonstrated that students with chronic absenteeism are at far greater risk of academic failure.  This workshop will present the key findings of that research as well as models for responding to chronic absenteeism.  Key stakeholders from a cross-system initiative in Baltimore, Maryland designed to improve school attendance will describe their efforts to engage children and families with school attendance issues and promote a citywide culture that recognizes the importance of consistent attendance for all students. These initiatives involve the child welfare agency, the courts, the schools, and community based organizations working together to improve school attendance.

Ms. Hedy Chang, Director, Attendance Works
Ms. Sue Fothergill, Director, Baltimore Student Attendance Campaign, Baltimore's Safe and Sound Campaign
Ms. Molly McGrath, Director, Baltimore City Department of Social Services
Hon. David W. Young, Associate Judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court (retired)

Handout 1
Handout 2

B2. Transforming Trauma's Effects on the Developing Brain: How Educators, Judges & Other Professionals Can Help to Foster Resilience and Promote School Success

Exposure to adverse and traumatic events in childhood can lead to neurobiological adaptations in a child's developing brain. These adaptations, including a vulnerability to being triggered into survival mode (fight, flight, or freeze) by trauma reminders that are not actual threats, can result in behaviors that interfere with success in school or community settings.  As children and youth are punished for being triggered into survival mode, they may eventually become involved in the juvenile justice system.  Indeed, research indicates that unaddressed trauma can contribute to the “School to Prison Pipeline.” These difficulties can be overcome, however, by creating trauma-informed systems (e.g., educational, judicial, legal, justice, child welfare) that are more safe and supportive of the needs of children and youth exposed to toxic stress. Trauma-informed systems take into account how chronic stress and trauma affect everyone in the system, and promote resilience not only for children, youth, and families, but also for the professionals who work with them.  This workshop will explore the neurobiology of trauma, its implications for systems working with children and youth, and effective approaches to mitigating traumatic stress that can be carried out by anyone who interacts with children and youth who have experienced trauma.

Dr. Joyce Dorado, Director, UCSF Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS); Associate Clinical Professor; and Director of Clinical Research and Evaluation, Child and Adolescent Services, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco – San Francisco General Hospital

Handout 1
Handout 2

B3. Truancy Court and Model School Attendance Review Board Programs for School Attendance Improvement

California has explored a number of means to effectively address students with chronic attendance problems in a manner that will benefit the child and his or her family.  Truancy courts are collaborative courts that seek to intervene with families after other less intrusive interventions have failed.  School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) were created by statute to provide intensive guidance and coordinated community services to meet the special needs of pupils with persistent school attendance problems or school behavior problems. In establishing SARBs, the Legislature intended to develop new ways of coordinating school, community, and home efforts to deal with school attendance or school behavior problems. SARBs were designed to maximize the use of all available resources, including legal resources, and divert students with school-related problems from the juvenile justice system. This session will explore how truancy courts and SARBs in some areas of the state have been successful in collaborative efforts to enforce compulsory education laws and reduce the number of dropouts from the public school system.

Hon. Kimberly Menninger, Judge, Superior Court of California, County of Orange
Ms. Teresa Drenick, Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
Mr. David Kopperud, Education Programs Consultant, California Department of Education
Mr. Dan Sackheim, Education Programs Consultant, California Department of Education

Handout 1
Handout 2
Handout 3

C1. Interventions to End the School to Prison Pipeline

Funneling of students out of school and into the juvenile delinquency system perpetuates a cycle known as the “School-to-Prison-Pipeline.” This is a phenomenon that disproportionately impacts court-involved youth. This presentation explores some of the causes and consequences of this cycle, as well as examining in-depth some of the interventions developed to help break it. First, it will focus on the issue at the school level. It will give tips on identifying indicators of the need for intervention such as poor academic performance and behavior problems resulting from underlying disabilities, abuse and trauma. It will then offer tools for addressing those needs such as special education assessments and services, and substantive and procedural rights for school discipline proceedings. Then, the presentation will offer information and examples of interventions developed by the courts in Los Angeles County to help break this cycle.

Ms. Alaina Moonves-Leb, Education Attorney, The Alliance for Children's Rights
Ms. Ruth Cusick, Staff Attorney, Public Counsel
Ms. Liza Davis, Staff Attorney, Public Counsel

Handout 1

C2. Community Collaboration to Support Educational Success: A Successful Model from Santa Cruz

Foster youth are often faced with frequent changes in home and school placement, forcing transitions in teachers, peer groups, and homework routines, along with missed school days. Many are placed in inappropriate classrooms, lose school credits, and do not receive special education services or academic supports when needed. In addition, many children in foster care do not have an adult who is consistently and actively supporting their educational success. The consequences for these youth are devastating, and include higher rates of absenteeism and drop-out, higher rates of school discipline, and very low rates of college matriculation. Later in life, foster youth experience an increased likelihood of homelessness, incarceration, and unemployment. This session will focus on the educational challenges that children in foster care face, and strategies currently being employed in Santa Cruz County to help support the educational success of this population.  FosterEd is a collaboration between the presenters’ agencies and several community partners focused on improving the educational outcomes of children in care.

Hon. Denine Guy, Presiding Judge, Juvenile Division, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Cruz
Mr. Mark Holguin, Program Manager, Santa Cruz County Family and Children's Services
Mr. Michael Paynter, Foster Youth Services Coordinator and Program Manager of Student Services Division, Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Ms. Kim Corneille, Foster Youth Education Liaison, National Center for Youth Law – FosterEd Initiative / Santa Cruz County Office of Education
Ms. Rachel Velcoff Hults (Moderator), Project Manager, National Center for Youth Law – FosterEd Initiative / Santa Cruz County Office of Education

Handout 1
Handout 2

C3. Implicit Bias in Decision Making

A solution-focused training based upon the experiences and reflections of judges, educators and practitioners in education, child welfare and juvenile justice. The training will include discussions on how implicit bias results in the use of racially coded language found in court reports and student records, why terms such as willful-defiance are not race neutral, how stereotypes can distort perceptions of risk, disruptive behavior or delinquency, and how biases can result in ambiguous charges that can affect decisions at each decision point.
The training is organized around the following three learning objectives: 1.To explain how stereotypes and colorblindness work in tandem to preserve and camouflage racism in contemporary society. 2.To help participants identify bias in individual and institutional decision-making. 3. To teach participants how to develop intervention strategies to reduce and eliminate bias.

Dr. Rita Cameron-Wedding, Chair, Women's Studies and Professor, Women's Studies and Ethnic Studies, California State University Sacramento

D1. Judging the Teen Brain: What Judges Need to Know About Adolescent Brain Development

Teens have been confounding adults, in every culture, throughout time.  Judges are burdened with helping teens become accountable while at the same time trying to be developmentally attuned to what teens are actually capable of understanding. This presentation focuses on cultivating "developmental competence" for judges and other adults working with teens.  Dr. Bostic will clarify seismic brain changes that occur during adolescence that drive their behaviors and provide opportunities for intervention as well as clarify why interventions used with adults are not effective with youth.

Dr. Jeff Q. Bostic, Director, School Psychiatry Program for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Ms. Lisa H. Thurau, Executive Director, Strategies for Youth, Inc.


D2. Introduction to Restorative Justice (RJ) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Models of Intervention

Many school districts across the county are implementing alternative approaches to improve school climate and obviate the need for exclusionary disciplinary practices including suspension and expulsion.  Implementation of these alternative approaches has had positive impacts on these schools in terms of reducing the number of behavioral incidents, the need for suspensions and expulsions, and led to improved attendance and academic performance.  This workshop will provide an overview of the basic features and benefits of two of the key promising approaches:  Restorative Justice (RJ) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as well as the findings about the impact of implementation of these interventions.

Ms. Rita Renjitham Alfred, Co-Founder, Restorative Justice Training Institute
Ms. Sujatha Baliga (Moderator), Director, Restorative Justice Project, and Associate Director, National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Ms. Barbara Kelley, State PBIS Coordinator, California Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

Handout 1
Handout 2

D3. California School Discipline Innovators Panel

Many schools and districts in California have been implementing evidence based and promising practices to improve their school climates and reduce the need for exclusionary discipline measures such as suspension and expulsion.  This workshop will include innovators from around California describing the interventions they have used and the positive results for their students and communities.  The interventions they have deployed include Positive Behavioral and Interventions and Supports, Social and Emotional Learning, and Restorative Justice/Practices.

Mr. Billy Aydlett, Principal, Leataata Floyd Elementary School, Sacramento City Unified School District
Dr. Ramona Bishop, Superintendent, Vallejo City Unified School District
Mr. Eric Butler, Restorative Justice Coordinator, Ralph Bunche High School, Oakland Unified School District
Mr. Godwin Higa, Principal, Cherokee Point Elementary School, San Diego Unified School District

Handout 1
Handout 2

Wednesday, December 4th Plenary
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