Saturday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

Juvenile offenders: Leaving room for hope behind bars (Editorial), LA Times

Gov. Jerry Brown has before him SB 9, an important but in the end quite modest bill that would modify life-without-parole sentences for most inmates who committed their crimes as juveniles. The bill would put California, at long last, in the company of most of the world’s civilized societies by recognizing the fundamental difference between juveniles and adults and opening a small window of hope, late in life, for those who perpetrated violent and cruel acts in their youth.

Research Shows Suspensions Don’t Work, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

The problem I see as a parent looking at high school is that suspensions don’t work. Yet, suspension is one of the most used practices in the nation’s schools. According to a 2008 U.S. Department of Education study, more than 3.3 million students are suspended from schools each year.

If you’re African American or Latino, according to a report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, Opportunities Suspended: the Disparate Impact of Disciplinary Exclusion from School, you’re much more likely to be suspended than if you were white.

“This first-ever breakdown of nearly 7,000 districts found that 17 percent of African-American students nationwide received an out-of-school suspension compared to about 5 percent of White students,” the report read. “The comparable rate for Latinos was 7 percent. The data analyzed covered about 85 percent of the nation’s public school students. The suspension rates were equally striking for students with disabilities and revealed that an estimated 13 percent of all students with disabilities were suspended nationally, approximately twice the rate of their non-disabled peers.”

Appeals Court Backs Student Religious Club, Education Week

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Minneapolis school district likely engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination when it barred a religious club for elementary students from an after-school program open to other community groups.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled unanimously in favor of the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Minnesota, a chapter of a Warrenton, Mo.-based Christian organization that sponsors after-school Good News Clubs, in which Bible lessons are delivered to club participants at public elementary schools across the country.

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