Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

photo courtesy of: http://media.washtimes.com/media/community/viewpoint/entry/2012/04/08/not-for-sale-640_s640x427.jpg?73b8e21685896c3f2859310aaa5adb253919b641

Not So Well-Regulated Militias in Schools, Juvenile Justice Blog

However, absent from the media coverage of North Carolina, and lost amidst the General Assembly’s recent efforts to attack women, restrict voting, dismantle public education, make the rich richer and poor poorer, and initiate other measures from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s vile playbook, is a section buried deep (pages 77-78) in the recently ratified state budget that would allow armed militias to roam schools and arrest students.

The provision allows school districts to enter into agreements with sheriff’s departments and/or police departments that would provide former law enforcement officers and/or former military police officers to roam school hallways. The legislation requires the “volunteer school safety resource officers” to be trained in the social and cognitive development of children, but does not require training in their proper roles, students with disabilities, students’ rights, supporting students in positive ways, or cultural competency. Additionally, the bill mandates that neither a law enforcement agency nor a school district can be held liable for any “good-faith action” taken by an officer. Also, the bill does not prohibit the volunteers from carrying pepper spray, TASERs, and guns; presumably, volunteers will be armed. Perhaps worst of all, the provision gives the officers the power to arrest without any restrictions on such power (e.g., no arrests for minor misbehavior or manifestations of students’ disabilities). Notably, the state budget also provides grants for more paid law enforcement officers to patrol public schools on a full-time basis (misleadingly called “school resource officers”).

History and research tell us that unleashing armed cops and soldiers in schools will disproportionately impact students of color and result in more students unnecessarily in the juvenile and criminal injustice systems, more undermining of teachers’ and administrators’ authority, and more damage to learning environments. Even if law enforcement officers in schools were benevolently conceived as a means of keeping intruders out of schools and intervening when violence occurs, they are typically used as yet another developmentally inappropriate way of punishing misbehaving students who need understanding and positive support.

Since policymakers have repeatedly ignored thepleas and research from education and juvenile justice advocates, it’s up to school districts to stay true to their missions and reject more (paid or volunteer) cops in schools. And it’s up to all of us to demand investments in proven measures of ensuring school safety, such as: small schools and classes; Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports; ample support staff (e.g., teacher assistants, counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses, and mentors); student support teams; restorative justice, social and emotional learning, and bullying prevention programs. Let’s stand up and protect our students and schools, before it’s too late.

Russia Reports Third Children’s Camp Stricken, rferl.org

Health authorities in Russia’s eastern Primorye region are blaming contaminated food or water for sickness that has afflicted 28 children at a summer camp. But the problem comes after 116 children and two adults from the children’s camps Orlyonok and Gudok in the Perm area, near the Urals, required treatment in a hospital late last week for intestinal problems.

Last week a group of orphans fled the Vostok children’s camp near Irkutsk because of lack of food.

110 children taken ill after mid-day meal in Bihar, newstrackindia.com

At least 110 children were taken ill after eating mid-day meal in Bihar’s Arwal and Jamui districts Wednesday in the second tragedy related to free school food in the state this month, officials said. On July 16, 23 children died after eating contaminated mid-day meal in Saran district. In Arwal district 65 children were taken ill and in Jamui district 45 children fell sick in Kalyuga village.

The incident in Arwal district took place in government primary school in Chandi village and out of the 65 children who fell ill 10 fainted for a few minutes, officials said.

Children were served ‘khichri and chokha’ in the mid-day meal. “Soon after they ate the food, some children complained of vomiting and pain in stomach,” an official said. In a similar tragedy, 23 children died after eating contaminated mid-day meal in Saran district. A forensic report confirmed the presence of toxic insecticide traces in the cooking oil used for making food at the school.

Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Attorney Defends Handling of Rape Case, The News Desk

Defense attorney Denise Rafferty spent roughly 80 minutes on the witness stand Tuesday, defending her handling of the case against a former Aquia Harbour teen now fighting to get his name off the state’s sex-offender registry.

She said she asked Edgar Coker’s parents multiple times for help finding people who would support him in his defense of a 2007 rape charge and for copies of his school records but got no help.

Coker was 15 on June 4, 2007, when he and a 14-year-old neighbor engaged in what the girl and her mother now say was consensual sex.

Attorneys for Coker, who is now 22, are in court this week to try to get his criminal convictions set aside and remove him from the state’s sex offender registry.

Seven Officers at Georgia RYDC Removed after “Egregious Policy Violations,” Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced that seven employees at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center have been removed, following findings from a three-week investigation.

According to Jim Shuler, an official DJJ spokesman, three of the officers, among them the facility’s night shift sergeant, resigned while the review was still being conducted. The other four officers, all of whom were suspended during the investigation, have been dismissed from their positions.

In a press release, DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles said that several night shift officers at the facility allegedly allowed youths to enter and exit the facility at-will.

Perps or Pupils?  Safety Policy Creates Prison-like New York City Schools, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

When Minerva Dickson first saw her high school she thought it looked like a prison. After her first week she realized how right her initial impressions were.

Every day when she arrived at the Thomas Jefferson Campus in Brownsville, Brooklyn, she waited in a line that snaked out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. She would shuffle up two steps passing beneath words from Abraham Lincoln inscribed on the neo-classical pediment: “Let Reverence for the Laws Become the Political Religion of the Nation.”

Next, she reached into her pocket for her identification card and slid it through a machine. When it recognized her, it blurted an approving beep and a green light would flash. When it didn’t, the machine made an abrasive buzzing noise and lit up red.

Clear of the reader, she headed to the metal detectors. There, at least a half dozen school safety agents waited. School safety agents, who answer to the New York City Police Department, wear a police uniform and a shield. A pair of handcuffs dangles from their belts.

Baby Veronica’s Birth Mother: Girl Belongs With Adoptive Parents, The Washington Post

Christy Maldonado lives in Oklahoma. This month she filed a brief urging the Supreme Court of South Carolina to finalize her birth daughter’s adoption by Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

In the summer of 2009, I made the most difficult decision of my life: to place my baby, Veronica Rose, with adoptive parents. Many know her as “Baby Girl” or “Baby Veronica” because her adoptive parents and I fought all the way to the Supreme Court for Veronica’s right to be treated like a human being — not property owned by a Native American tribe.

I am Latina and not a member of any tribe. When I became pregnant, I was already a single mother with two children, in a relationship that was on the rocks. I thought hard about my options and decided I could not have an abortion. I was briefly engaged to Veronica’s biological father, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, but our relationship was over by my third trimester.

When I asked my ex whether he wanted to be involved, he told me, by text message, that he wanted to give up all parental rights. And that was the last I heard from him. It was clear that my pregnancy and my baby were my responsibility.
New DelhiThe Supreme Court has refused to reduce the age for being considered juvenile to 16 years and has said that even those accused of heinous crimes, but below 18 years of age, will continue to be tried by a juvenile board under the Juvenile Justice Act, and not by a regular trial court.The top court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate seeking an amendment to the existing Juvenile law to allow those below 18 to be punished under regular law if they are charged with serious crimes.”We uphold the provisions of Juvenile Act. Interference is not necessary,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir.

The petition was filed after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last year.One of the six men accused of the horrific crime was a minor when the incident happened. He has been tried by the juvenile board and if found guilty, faces a maximum punishment of three years in a correction home.

Thursday’s Children & the Law News Roundup

Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre on Disparity in Law Over Age For Sexual Consent for Married Women, New Delhi, www.NDTV.com

New DelhiThe Supreme Court today issued a notice to the Centre and sought its response on removing disparity in law relating to the age for sexual consent for married women. This comes after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an organisation, Independent Thought, said: “Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code allows sexual relationship with a married girl at the age of 15 and does not treat it as rape, whereas anyone below the age of 18 is a child under various laws – juvenile justice act, protection of children against sexual offenses act.”

 

Florida Law Enhances Special Education Rights 

Florida enacted a new law this week intended to reiterate the rights of parents of special education students, including a provision that parents must agree to have their child placed on a track to earn a non-standard diploma, and that schools cannot discourage parents from bringing an adult of their choice to individualized education program meetings.

Many of the new provisions underline rights that were already a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but that parents nevertheless had a difficult time enforcing, Siegel said. Parents have always been a part of IEP team meetings, but Siegel said she has heard of cases where schools were shifting students onto special diploma tracks without giving parents an opportunity to object, or to even see the information that was prompting such a decision. The parents were then forced to shoulder the burden of proving that such a placement was inappropriate. Special, non-standard diplomas also cannot be used to enroll in college or the military, so a student with a special diploma can have limited options after graduation, she said.

The burden has now shifted to the school. Schools must also show why it is necessary for a student to be enrolled in a school that only students with disabilities attend.