Evaluating a Judge-Led Approach to Eliminating School Pathways to Juvenile Justice System

A report from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) presents the results of an evaluation of its judge-led model that aims to keep kids in school and out of court.

Dubbed the “Teske model” for the Georgia judge who helped pioneer the use of judicial authority to convene stakeholders around dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, the NCJFCJ studied the use of the intervention at 16 sites across the country. Each location received technical assistance to start a cooperative effort that would bring together parties around reforming school discipline practices that often lead to greater involvement in the juvenile justice system.

The evaluation assessed changes in attitudes and behaviors toward a reform of school disciplinary practices using a collaborative model and the change in the number of suspensions, expulsions and referrals to juvenile court at those sites.

After convening as part of a collaborative, stakeholders reported that when technical assistance was provided to developing stakeholder collaboratives, the sites had improved group cohesion and improved dynamics, leading to developing concrete steps to changing practices around school discipline and the juvenile court system.

However, the evaluation also experienced significant challenges with data collection. Though half of the sites provided some data on referrals to the juvenile justice system; only one (Hoopa, Calif.) was able to offer accurate and complete information. As a result, it was not possible to know if the convening of stakeholders at the 16 sites resulted in lower numbers of suspensions, expulsions or referrals to the juvenile justice system.

Several relevant barriers to data collection were identified: varying definitions of referrals across different systems, confusion about the original source of some referrals, insufficient context for data around the school discipline records, inflexible data systems and a greater need for cross-agency partnerships.

You can read the full report here.

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