National Leadership Summit
on School-Justice Partnerships
The National Leadership Summit on School-Justice Partnerships – held on March 11-13, 2012, in New York City – was a catalyst in promoting the development of partnerships among the court system, school administration, law enforcement and the community to work together to increase graduation rates while decreasing school suspensions, expulsions and arrests. With funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies; the California Endowment; MacArthur Foundation; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U. S. Department of Justice; Open Society Foundations; and Skadden, Arps, Judith S. Kaye, former Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chair of the Commission, convened this national summit for top state justice and education officials and their partners to raise awareness of the importance of focusing on school-justice partnerships in order to promote practices and policies of our education and justice systems that can help children succeed in school and in turn reduce the number of children involved in the juvenile and adult court systems.
The Commission reached out to federal agencies, philanthropies, national organizations and experts in the field to convene a multidisciplinary Partners Planning Committee – including representatives from the American Association of School Administrators; American Bar Association’s Commission on Youth at Risk; Casey Family Programs; Conference of Chief Justices; Conference of State Court Administrators; National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations; Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University; National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations; National Association of State Boards of Education; National Center for Juvenile Justice; National Center for State Courts; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; and Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education – to help develop the Summit’s agenda. As each of the Partners has a vested interest in promoting practices and policies of our education and justice systems that can reduce the involvement of children in the justice system and help children succeed in school, their collective participation provided a synergistic opportunity to raise awareness of the private and public efforts that are currently underway and develop partnerships to promote shared goals.
Collection of Reports
To help inform the work of the Summit, the Commission conducted a nationwide Call for Papers that targeted interdisciplinary experts engaged in promoting practices and policies of our education and justice systems that can reduce the involvement of children in the justice system and help children succeed in school including: academics, advocates, counselors, criminal justice experts, educators, legal experts, legislators, judicial leaders, juvenile justice experts, policymakers, program managers, public health specialists, researchers, school leaders and social workers. The resulting publication – Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court: A Collection of Reports to Inform the National Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships – was released at the Summit.
The Collection of Reports and all materials presented at the Summit were available on a public website that was developed to disseminate the information that was provided at the Summit in order to equip educators, advocates and judicial leaders with information that is needed to develop concrete reform strategies. The website became live at the onset of the Summit but is no longer available.
Following the collaborative approach of ground-breaking judicial leadership summits, the top judicial and education leaders from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were invited to attend and assemble a team for the Summit. This resulted in judicial, education and other stakeholder representation from 45 states, DC, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands at the Summit. This included 15 chief justices and 8 associate justices of the state’s highest court, 6 top and 8 assistants to the state’s top education officials, and 12 Native American leaders. The willingness of these leaders to dedicate this time underscores the growing prominence of this issue across the country.
This unprecedented Summit marked a critical step forward in bringing meaningful change to the issues of school discipline and involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The Summit showcased a growing body of research and evidence-based alternatives that indicate suspensions and expulsions are not effective in improving student behavior and are significantly associated with drop out and involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
The Summit highlighted cutting edge research, information and concrete strategies for improving disciplinary policy and practice and reducing referrals of minor misbehavior to juvenile and criminal courts.
The Summit agenda was packed with the leading national researchers and speakers on the school-justice connection, including presentations on discipline and racial justice, the impact of trauma on student behavior, and the use of emerging practices such as Positive Behavior Intervention Systems and restorative justice to address student misbehavior within the school community. Speakers included many of the contributing authors, such as Daniel J. Losen, J.D., M. Ed., Director, Center for Civil Rights Remedies, The Civil Rights Project/ Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA; Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D., University of Oregon Institute on Violence and Destructive Behavior; Hon. Steven C. Teske, Juvenile Court of Clayton County, GA; Russell Skiba, Ph.D., Director of the Equity Project at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University; as well as Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Melodee Hanes, Acting Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, United States Department of Justice; Russlynn H. Ali, Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education; and pre-recorded remarks from Eric H. Holder, Jr., United States Attorney General and Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education.
The national convening coincided with mounting national interest in promoting policies and practices that keep kids in school and out of court. The issue moved to the forefront of debate with the announcement last summer by Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan of the federal Supportive School Discipline Initiative. Additionally, the release of stunning data on widespread suspensions and expulsions in Texas and their negative effects on school children has solidified the urgent need to address the problem. The Summit gave states and local communities – such as Connecticut; Los Angeles, California; and Baltimore, Maryland – a platform to share their lessons learned as they had begun taking steps to restrict the use of suspensions and expulsions to only the most serious offenses, such as weapon possession, in advance of policy guidance from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education that is expected to caution school districts against the overuse of suspension, expulsion and arrest.
The Summit gave participants an opportunity to develop relationships and communication channels for future information sharing within their states and with other states. These relationships are critical to the creation of effective cross-systems service delivery for children that prevents involvement in the justice system in the first place, but also gives those who do enter the system clear off-ramps as well as opportunities to thrive.
The Commission, working with the states, compiled the state-specific notes and plans that were captured during the state team discussions. State-specific reports are available on the school-justiceSummit.org website for those states that authorized public access.
About The Atlantic PhilanthropiesThe Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic focuses on four critical social problems: Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam. To learn more, please visit: www.atlanticphilanthropies.org.