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Supports for Youth in Juvenile Justice System

Concerning multi-level supports for youth in varying stages of the juvenile justice system, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2024 Regular Session
Children & Domestic Matters
Bill Summary

The bill establishes a bill of rights for K-12 students who are involved in any capacity with the juvenile or criminal justice system (justice-engaged student). School districts, boards of cooperative services, charter schools, and institute charter schools (local education providers) must follow the bill of rights for justice-engaged students.

The bill of rights includes, but is not limited to:

  • Providing the justice-engaged student with alternative solutions to a general education, when appropriate;
  • Prompt enrollment or re-enrollment no later than 10 business days after the first request to the local education provider, so long as the student is eligible for enrollment, as determined by the local education provider ;
  • Appropriate credit for coursework completed while justice-engaged, and for that coursework to be applied toward graduation or school continuation;
  • Providing the justice-engaged student with a graduation and promotion plan, developed in consultation with the justice-engaged student, the student's family, caregiver or advocate ;
  • Privacy, including privacy when related to diversion, probation or questioning about a crime;
  • Protection by the federal "Individuals with Disabilities Act", section 504 of the federal "Rehabilitation Act of 1973", applicable foster care regulations, and the federal "McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act";
  • Create evidence of and be evaluated for giftedness; and
  • Allowing the justice-engaged student to participate in school activities or career readiness pathways in accordance with rules promulgated by the state board of education (board).

Each local education provider shall publish on its website an explanation of the services and resources available for justice-engaged students, including the name, phone number, and email address of a designated, trained point-of-contact person (contact person) at the local education provider. For small and rural school districts that are not members of a BOCES, a designated support person within the department of education (department) may act as a point- of-contact person. The contact person shall complete annual training read and understand the guidance developed by the department of education (department) and be knowledgeable about alternative education options and wraparound services. When notified that a student is justice-engaged, the contact person shall schedule a meeting with the justice-engaged student and the multi-tiered systems of supports team (MTSS), if one is available, at the local education provider. If an MTSS is not available, the contact person shall schedule a meeting with an intervention team. Upon notification or request, a local education provider will work with the team of professionals, including the multi-tiered systems of supports and appropriate intervention teams, families, and justice-engaged students, to ensure a pathway to graduation, including workforce development opportunities, access to alternative educational programming, and mental health and other supports as and if appropriate and available. The MTSS or intervention team shall, in collaboration with the justice-engaged student and the justice-engaged student's family, develop a customized support plan related to the justice-engaged student's education needs. On or before July 1, 2024, the department shall convene an interagency working group to review and make recommendations to the department and joint education committees of the house of representatives and the senate no later than December 1, 2024 regarding justice-engaged students. Beginning with the 2025-26 academic year, the department, in collaboration with the division of youth services and the judicial department, shall develop a data tracking system to track data on attendance, drop-out rates, and graduation rates for justice-engaged students.

The board shall promulgate rules to establish a process and framework for interpreting and transferring credits and schoolwork completed by a justice-engaged student while in custody. Local education providers retain the right to suspend or expel a justice-engaged student pursuant to applicable laws.

The department shall provide guidance to local education providers on how to allow a justice-engaged student to receive an accommodation to participate in school activities, including, but not limited to, graduation ceremonies, sporting events, after-school activities, and college or career readiness pathways.

On or before September 1, 2025 , 2026, the bill requires the department to select and contract with an entity to establish and maintain a statewide hotline for justice-engaged students, families and caregivers, justice system personnel, and education personnel. Each justice-engaged student shall be provided information about the hotline by law enforcement after ticketing or arrest, by the division of youth services after release from the division, and by local education providers after notification that a student has become justice-engaged.

The bill requires the entity operating the hotline to submit a written report to the department and board on or before June 30, 2025, and each June 30 thereafter. The report must categorize and summarize the number of calls received, the type of person calling, types of supports or referrals provided, and the geography of calls received so that service gaps can be identified.

Beginning July 1, 2025, the department shall create and maintain a position to serve as a support person to assist students from frontier and rural school districts who have been denied re-entry into school by a local education provider. Local education providers retain the right to suspend or expel a justice-engaged student pursuant to applicable laws.

Under current law, if a child or youth is within a court's jurisdiction, a preliminary investigation is made to determine whether further actions be taken to protect the interests of the child or youth or the community. The bill allows the court to extend the preliminary investigation for an additional 6 months to make additional findings. The court or judge or magistrate is encouraged to take into consideration a juvenile's educational progress and ability to achieve credits toward graduation when considering release options. If the court commits a justice-engaged student to the department of human services that does not include a physical threat or bodily injury to another person, the court is encouraged to order that the commitment take place in a manner that allows the justice-engaged student to continue to attend school prior to commitment to avoid disruption of the justice-engaged student's academic progress and ability to achieve credits for a semester.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)




Bill Text

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The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details