Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Ohio: Court Reverses Custody Ruling for Lesbian’s Former Partner, Pink News

A court in Ohio has reversed an earlier decision to allow access to the biological daughter of a lesbian’s former girlfriend, now saying that she has no right to custody.

Following a long legal battle, Maggie Gross had found she was entitled to access the daughter, now 7, of her former partner, Jennifer Herrick, at Franklin County Juvenile Court.  The Franklin County Court of Appeals ruled that the custody ruling no longer applied because the man Ms Herrick had married after breaking up with Ms Gross had adopted the child.

Foster Care: Why the Debate Over Open Court Matters, The Washington Times

Under discussion is whether child welfare hearings should be open to the press.  Currently, most courts are presumptively closed, which means that journalists are barred unless an exception is made by the presiding judge.

Proponents claim that by allowing the media access to the proceedings foster care youth will be better represented and protected.

Opponents caution that open hearings can lead to the “outing” of foster care youth and details of their lives when they are entitled to privacy.

Texas School Discipline: Making the Grade?,

These [zero tolerance] draconian policies often remove students from the education system altogether and instead use the juvenile justice system as a method of imparting discipline. Given the high rates at which zero-tolerance policies are applied—60 percent of Texas students have been suspended, expelled, or placed in an alternative educational setting—we would expect to see dramatic gains in school safety.

But that isn’t the case. And at the high costs for current disciplinary practices—in one year, Texas schools spent $327 million on security and monitoring and an additional $232 million on alternative education programs for disciplined students—Texas taxpayers are getting a poor return on their investment.

Texas schools should begin transitioning away from the inflexible policies that failed to correct student behavior or increase the safety of Texas schools. Instead, tiered discipline systems can provide sufficient local control while increasing the number of students who can safely stay in school and receive their full education.

L.A. Schools Moving Away from Zero Tolerance Policies, Los Angeles Times

A new partnership among Los Angeles city, police and school officials aims to support — rather than punish — students, offering counseling instead of citations.

According to a recent report from The Jackson Free Press, conditions at a Hinds County, Miss. youth detention center have not improved, despite a federal settlement agreement from earlier this year that sought to address and improve the facility’s problems.In August, Leonard Dixon, a Michigan-based juvenile-justice expert, filed a federal court complaint alleging that the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center has not complied with the provisions of a settlement that would provide juvenile detainees with mental-health evaluations, counseling sessions and improved rehabilitation options, among other services, The Jackson Free Press reported.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Disability Rights Mississippi filed the original class-action lawsuit that instigated the settlement agreement in 2011. The lawsuit further alleged that juveniles were often subject to verbal and physical abuse from staffers.

Hard Penalties Mulled for Drivers and Youths in Japan, Daily Yomiuri Online

Justice Minister Makoto Taki announced after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that the Legislative Council will soon discuss a plan to establish a quasi-dangerous driving charge to toughen the penalty for reckless driving resulting in death or injury.

Taki also said he would refer a proposed amendment to the Juvenile Law to the council at its general meeting, which is scheduled for Friday. The main pillar of the amendment focuses on raising the maximum jail term for juvenile delinquents.

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