March | April 2014

News From the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency PreventionOn April 9, 2014, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention convened in Washington, DC, to discuss the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education's Supportive School Discipline Initiative and other related efforts to reduce punitive and discriminatory school discipline practices and keep children in school and out of the justice system. Associate Attorney General Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Karol V. Mason, and OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee offered opening remarks.

The meeting included presentations by a panel of experts that included Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education; Marlyn Tillman, Cofounder, Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline; Russell Skiba, Director, Discipline Disparities Research to Practice Collaborative; James Bell, Founder and Executive Director, W. Haywood Burns Institute; and Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court, Delaware.

Following are a few highlights of topics covered in the panel presentations:

    A photo of meeting.
    Associate Attorney General Tony West (left) and OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee at the meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention on April 9, 2014.
  • As part of the Supportive School Discipline Initiative, in March the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights released the Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2011–12 school year, the first time since 2000 that the department has compiled data from all 97,000 of the nation’s public schoolsrepresenting 49 million students. Among other findings, the data show that:
    • Racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin in preschool. Black students represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment but 42 percent of students who are suspended once and 48 percent of those who are suspended more than once.
    • Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students.
    • While boys receive two out of three suspensions, black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race and ethnicity and most boys.
  • The Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative has released a series of briefing papers that, among other things, provide information on effective interventions educators can use, describe policies that help eradicate discipline disparities, and summarize recent research on disparities in school discipline policies based on race/ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. This research follows the federal guidance that the Departments of Justice and Education released on January 8, outlining civil rights obligations for school systems in administering discipline and detailing best practices to improve school climate.
  • The panel also discussed the critical role judges can play as conveners and catalysts for joint problem solving with schools. OJJDP is providing financial assistance to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to evaluate the replication of successful school and court partnerships. This project is designed to reduce student referrals to court for nonserious behaviors by developing a curriculum and training and supporting up to 16 sites with judicial consultants.

Referring to the information contained in the Civil Rights Data Collection from the 2011–12 school year, Associate Attorney General West said: “We understand the need to address these disparities now, and we are working to ensure that our efforts to improve school climate and school discipline policy and practice are incorporated into pertinent grant programs and policy initiatives.”

Meetings of the council are open to the public. Visit the Web site to register for the next meeting, learn more about the council, and read minutes from past meetings.

The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an independent body within the executive branch of the federal government operated under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The council's primary functions are to coordinate federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and federal programs relating to missing and exploited children. The council is made up of 22 members–13 ex officio and affiliate members and 9 practitioners. The ex officio members are: the Attorney General; the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development, and Labor; the Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Affiliate members are the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and the Interior, and the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of HHS. The nine juvenile justice practitioner members are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate Majority Leader, and the President of the United States.