SECRET SUSPENSION SAUCE: “As it continues to modify strict disciplinary policies in an effort to keep students in the classroom, Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday released data showing privately run charter schools expel students at a vastly higher rate than the rest of the district,” the Tribune reports.
“The data reveal that during the last school year, 307 students were kicked out of charter schools, which have a total enrollment of about 50,000. In district-run schools, there were 182 kids expelled out of a student body of more than 353,000.
“That means charters expelled 61 of every 10,000 students while the district-run schools expelled just 5 of every 10,000 students.
“It’s the first time the district has released student suspension data for every school and also the first time it has released data on expulsions for charters. For charter critics, the numbers will buttress long-standing complaints that the privately run operations push out troubled students, allowing their schools to record stronger academic performances.”
* The revelation comes two weeks after Mayor Rahm Emanuel bragged about a big decrease in CPS suspensions. Catalyst Chicago found instead that “young elementary-age students were suspended far more than in previous years.”
BOOM TIMES: “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle once vowed to ‘blow up’ the juvenile jail – viewed by some as a poster child for everything wrong with the U.S. approach to youth justice – on Chicago’s West Side,” the Sun-Times reported last month.
“Nearly two years later, the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, which was a real-life house of horrors for young inmates until the feds took it over in 2007, is still standing.
“In fact, its population is likely to boom.”
* Seventeen-year-olds who will no longer be held at the adult jail under a new state law threaten to overwhelm juvenile system.
BISHOP BAILS: “Ending weeks of speculation, Arthur Bishop [Wednesday] submitted a letter of resignation as director of the state’s child welfare agency,” the Tribune reports.
“Gov. Patrick Quinn appointed Bishop last month to lead the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
“But, within weeks of the appointment, Bishop’s administration was dogged by controversy over revelations that he pleaded guilty in 1995 to misdemeanor theft for misusing money meant for patients at the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center. Bishop also has been involved in a paternity case since 2003, according to court records.”
* Before Quinn selected Bishop to lead DCFS, he had spent three years at the helm of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.
TEEN COURT: “The St. Clair County Juvenile Justice Council has been awarded a $40,000 grant, which will be used in part to establish a ‘teen court,’” the Belleville News-Democrat reports.
“Teen court juries will be drawn from civics class students from high schools across St. Clair County. The St. Clair County Juvenile Justice Council will launch teen court later this year.”
* The grant was awarded by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER: “President Obama on Thursday launched an initiative to unlock the full potential of young men and boys of color — an effort the president said will help not only the at-risk demographic but the nation as a whole. It’s also an effort that hits close to home for Mr. Obama,” CBS News reports.
“I could see myself in these young men,” Mr. Obama said from the East Room of the White House, standing aside participants of a Chicago-based youth guidance group, Becoming a Man (BAM). “I didn’t have a dad in the house, and I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time,” he said. “I made bad choices, I got high without thinking about the harm it would do, I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have.” The difference, he said, is that “I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving. When I made a mistake, the consequences were a little less severe.”
“The ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative will be modeled on local initiatives, where governments have successfully partnered with local businesses and foundations to connect young men with mentoring networks and to help them cultivate skills to get ahead. The My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort that Mr. Obama officially established Thursday, will determine what public and private efforts have been the most successful. That effort will be led by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson.”
* The Center for Public Integrity described the initiative as “a privately funded effort to address the high rates at which black and Latino males drop out of school, come into contact with the criminal justice system and fall victim to violence.”
LGBT TOO: “School discipline policies have been under heightened scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education because of the disparate impact they have on students of color,” the Center for American Progress says.
“Last month, the U.S. Department of Education released ‘Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide For Improving School Climate and Discipline,’ the first time federal agencies have offered legal guidelines to address and reduce racial discrimination and disproportionality in schools. This guidance makes tremendous strides in reporting on the stark racial disparities in school discipline, however, missing from this groundbreaking work are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, youth—who are also disproportionately affected by harsh school discipline policies—due to the dearth of data to illuminate their experiences.
“All too often, LGBT youth are pushed out of the classroom as a result of a hostile school climate. When an LGBT youth is tormented in school by classmates and is emotionally or physically harmed, or even worse, driven to suicide, the news media rightly shines a spotlight on the situation. And while bullying grabs the headlines, as it should, it is only a portion of the story when it comes to LGBT youth feeling unwelcome and less than safe in school.”
FLORIDA FOCUS: “A bill aiming to reform Florida’s juvenile justice system recently won unanimous support during its first Senate hearing. But, some say the measure could still do more,” WFSU reports.
“Fleming Island Republican Senator Rob Bradley’s bill aims to rewrite Florida law that governs juvenile justice to focus on ways to help the state’s delinquent kids. Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters says it’s the first time in more than a decade there’s been a revision, and she’s on board.”
* Still up for debate: keeping delinquency cases out of adult courts and keeping children’s records confidential.
INDIANA INDIGNITY: “Hinds County hasn’t done enough to improve conditions at its juvenile center and a federal judge should hold the county in contempt, plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the facility say,” AP reports.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the contempt motion Thursday before U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III.
“The law center and other plaintiffs sued Hinds County supervisors over conditions at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in 2011. The law center alleged that children were being denied mental health services and subjected to verbal abuse and threats by staff.
“The lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement in 2012, which called for an expert to monitor the facility. Although the most recent report by the monitor does show continued improvement, the juvenile center still has not reached substantial compliance with any of the 71 provisions that are part of the settlement.”
* Hinds County’s attorney declined to comment.
TEXAS TOAST: “After less than two years leading the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Executive Director Mike Griffiths announced Thursday that he is resigning,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“Citing health-related issues and a desire to spend more time with his family, Griffiths wrote a letter to the juvenile justice board and agency staff informing them that he would resign effective March 31.”
* The Tribune says reform advocates were “surprised and saddened” by Griffiths’ departure.
INDIA: “In the wake of the recent expose of alleged violation at a children’s home in the city, childcare officials have insisted that the time has come to goad the administration of such homes to abide by the rules and regulations laid down in the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Care and Protection Act,” the Times of India reports.
“The officials during a meeting on Monday insisted for the compulsory registration of such homes under the JJ Act.”
* Move follows revelations of hygienic problems in unregistered children’s homes.