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Summit spurs school-focused bill

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A juvenile justice summit by the Indiana State Bar Association in August has led to the introduction of a bill that would change how students are treated in schools and hopefully decrease the number of school suspensions while increasing statewide graduation rates.

House Bill 1193, introduced by Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, marks the first statewide effort of its kind in the country for how it addresses the roles of school resource officers, educators, mental health professionals, social workers, and others who regularly interact with elementary school, middle school, and high school students.

The bill passed out of committee 10-0 Jan. 12 and has support from a number of organizations.

HB 1193 has two main purposes according to those who support it, including JauNae Hanger, a former commissioner of the Indiana Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services and former chair of the ISBA Children's Rights Committee; and Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County, Ga.

The first goal of the bill is to provide a framework for training officers who work with school-age children. The second goal is to have a working group that will study how those efforts make a difference and what other efforts could be made.

"We train officers how to handle narcotics, DUIs, traffic accidents, but we don't offer the same level of training for those who are dealing with kids," said Lawson, an experienced officer herself.

Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores of the Marion Superior Court, who testified in support of the bill, also advocated for more police training for officers who regularly work with students and said there needs to be more consistency.

By developing a youth work group, better data will be available about what is being done already and what could be better when it comes to the relationships police officers and others have with children they come into contact with.

Part of the inspiration for the statewide legislation is work Judge Teske has done on a county level as a juvenile court judge for a suburb of Atlanta.

Judge Teske is nationally known for his work with alternatives to zero-tolerance policies. He's worked with school systems in Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wis.; a county just outside of Boston; and schools in Oregon, Washington, and Louisiana that have similar issues in terms of low graduation rates and high rates of out-ofschool suspensions.

Besides being a keynote speaker at the August summit in Indiana, Judge Teske testified for the bill Jan. 12. He presented data about his county as it related to zero-tolerance policies and alternatives to out-of-school suspensions for students.

In his data, there were obvious decreases in misdemeanor arrests after the school system, juvenile court, and police department signed an agreement in 2004 that would allow for alternatives to suspension.

The alternatives were a warning for the first offense, a referral for the student to attend a workshop for the second offense, and a complaint would be filed at the third offense.

Judge Teske said in most cases the offenses would stop after the warning or the workshop. It was also discovered through the data that most of the misdemeanor offenses that caused students to miss school prior to the alternatives were relatively small things like mouthing off or arguments between students.

Felonies, which included bringing guns or drugs to school, also decreased nearly 50 percent in his county as a result of alternative punishments. Under the zerotolerance policy, suspension rates doubled, drop-out rates increased, and racial and ethnic disparities also increased.

Russell Skiba, director of the Equity Project at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University, also participated in the August summit and testified on behalf of the bill. He added there was no proof of any positive effects of zero tolerance and that training was a better answer.

After the officers in Judge Teske's county received training and alternatives to taking students to the juvenile detention center for every seemingly small offense, not only did the numbers and bad behavior decrease on school campuses, the police made new allies in the community.

In one case, it was from talking to students that the police were able to arrest a member of the community who had $70,000 in cash, two pounds of marijuana, and a cache of weapons in his house.

Judge Teske also spoke about the role of school resource officers when there is an actual incident that warrants their attention, such as a student who is threatening his classmates or teachers, as opposed to a student who had a bad attitude but didn't cause or threaten physical harm.

By keeping the police - and probation officers - available for "the kids who scare us," he said, that will prevent worse tragedies than a food fight or a harmless misunderstanding.

As a result of the decrease in suspensions, there was a steady increase in graduation rates from when the alternatives were introduced in 2004 to 2009.

"Who would have thought that if you kept kids in school they would actually graduate?" he quipped.

Judge Teske and other supporters of the bill recognize there is a difference between implementing a program for a county and implementing a program for a state where every county has different needs and resources. Judge Teske said the bill would still allow each county to determine its own best practices based on what was available.

Lawson said she was pleased that all stakeholders in Indiana were willing to come together on this issue. For instance, educators need to teach math and reading, but they can't be effective if they have disruptive students.

But teachers are aware that "if they ask Johnny why he's being disruptive, they have to be prepared to deal with the answer," Lawson said.

This is where social workers, mental health workers, and others in the community can work with the teachers on how to deal with the issues of students who need help by providing information about resources available in the community to children and their families.

In addition to the bill, Hanger and Paje Felts, legislative counsel for the Indiana State Bar Association, said the next step is to finish a report based on what summit participants said about Indiana's current policies. While the report was the first priority following the summit, Hanger said they wanted to keep up the momentum and chose to work on the legislation.

Felts said she was happy to see support for the bill and what it stands for, and that it was rewarding to her and everyone else at the summit that their August discussion would have a lasting impact.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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