Brown v. Board of Education – 50 Years Later
Addressing the Needs of At-Risk Students
To Reduce the Number of Children Entering the Justice System
A Community Dialogue Hosted by
The Miami-Dade Community Relations Board &
The Law Offices of Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer
February 25, 2005
How can we assist public schools in identifying children at risk and promote
* Targeting children from birth to 21 years of age for referrals to “Child Find”
* The school district provides diagnostics for ages 3-5
* Referrals from: Head Start, Daycare, Screening sources, Self-referrals Florida
Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) South
Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) could collaborate with “FDLRS/Child Find” on a
special as-needed basis; helping offenders navigate through the various systems
while also getting help for younger siblings.
* What would be the role of the “Children’s Trust”?
* Why should we be concerned? Try to intervene early; you hear children unable
to read or articulate.
* Human Services Coalition is already providing similar guidance
Q: What about training of workers or/and volunteers?
Q: When can help be provided?
* Before arrest
* After adjudication
* Court mandated
* Alerts from the community or extended family member
* Judgment by peers
* Case management
* Crisis intervention
* School has “at risk” definition- what is it? Red flags identified by agencies
and others who work with children
* Grade level delayed
* Disruptive in classroom
* Violent outburst
* Aggressive behavior
* A service fair (for providers/users) workshop for front-line staff
(counselors, contact person at each school (e.g., Juvenile Probation Officers,
Public Defender’s Office, State Attorney’s Office)
* JAC (Central Clearinghouse) for ID of risk factors and connecting to schools
and appropriate services (early ID of risk factors associated with all the
children in the family)
* Trained staff and volunteers:
At daycare centers
In the schools
Parks and recreation
Public service announcements
Community-based activity centers
Places of worship
*Educate assessors of children to identify educational and development deficits
and each child’s strengths. Associated with public information PSAS (page 1)
*Development of Community Coalition to oversee and monitor the quality of
programs and services. (early intervention, prevention, delinquencies)
Action – Build on the work of the CRB to increase participation and effect
implementation of the programs in various communities
* Alerts from the “CRB” (we need, we have, you are eligible for) a conference
that brings agencies and community based non-profits for the purpose of
showcasing the impact they are having on communities.
Work group B:
What can juvenile justice practitioners and stakeholders do to improve the
educational outcomes of children in delinquency court?
- Support client families by making resources easily accessible, and provide a
contact person and regular feedback, as well as services specifically for
parents, such as literacy programs.
- Identify the etiology of the problem (i.e., the wound) through effective
assessment, and use appropriate resources to address the child’s specific needs
at whatever stage of the continuum the child is in. For example, rely on the
school guidance counselor as an important resource for academic and
- Make written pre-dispositional reports (PDR’s) the norm. Staffings that
involve all parties foster investment in the terms and conditions of probation,
and help clarify the problems and the goals. Written PDR’s insure a paper trial
that fosters accountability for the child, parent and the system.
- Include an “academic plan” in each PDR. Miami-Dade County Public Schools has
a juvenile justice liaison person available at each school who could consult on
the PDR. Make contacts with the district liaisons the norm for Juvenile
Probation Officer (JPO) and other social workers.
- Assess what type of learner the child is as a means of focusing on individual
- Focus on resources and programs that will empower both the parent/guardian
and the child.
- Create programmatic opportunities that foster more peer-mentoring
relationships (as used in Drug Court and in the peer culture model of Baypoint
- Build a community consensus that insists on more permanent, “juvenile savvy”
staff in agencies that make key delinquency/sentencing decisions.
- Rely on “Restorative Justice” practices especially for school/domestic
- Research Best Practice model for alternatives to suspension.
How can crime prevention and early intervention programs be strengthened to
improve educational outcomes?
Prevention and early intervention programs can:
* Coordinate their activities to reinforce the educational objectives of schools
in their target areas
* Assist in identifying and involving corporate and other volunteer mentors for
student support and tutoring, e.g. seniors to read to elementary school
students, student “big brother/sister” initiatives, etc.
* Serve as advocates for public education; identify and share observations of
barriers that prevent children from learning
* Link participants in these programs and their families with school and other
* Integrate interventions and activities focused on the problem of
truancy/suspensions among students, e.g. provide alternative education support
programs for suspended students.
* In programs involving parents, develop or expand efforts to inform and engage
them in activities related to the education of their children, e.g. partner with
a school to recruit and enhance the involvement of parents in the PTA
* Educate parents about their role in their child’s education and in school
* Provide positive rewards and public acknowledgement of educational achievement
and success among children served by these programs
* Pilot innovative ways to integrate “education” in ongoing activities, e.g.
theatre: reading and speech; football: computing game statistics, etc.
* Assure that children who participate in these programs and who are believed to
have special educational needs/deficits, are appropriately referred to school
Other suggestions included:
* Lending support to other community efforts to enhance educational resources
such as school equipment, teacher training, etc.
* Enhance the requirements and resources for educating youth in the juvenile
detention/juvenile justice system
To reduce the disproportionate number of minority children in delinquency court
- Revise the Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI), used by juvenile
court judges and the JAC to determine whether a child should be detained or
released, to eliminate factors that are out of the child’s control. For example,
whether a child failed to appear often depends on whether an adult provided the
- Develop “suspension centers” as an alternative to indoor and outdoor
suspension, to manage student misbehavior while ensuring children are in a
- Review and revise the Code of Conduct to ensure an objective suspension
- Mandate “Positive Behavioral Support” for all Dade County schools, to ensure
all students have the opportunity to benefit from this behavioral approach.
- Review the number of referrals to “Positive Behavioral Support” to ensure
that it is not being used punitively or excessively for African-American
- Expedite evaluations and implementation of Individualized Education Programs
to ensure that exceptional students receive appropriate services in a timely
- School evaluations should include home assessments to ensure the evaluation
encompasses all aspects of the child’s learning environment.
- Increase training opportunities for all parties, including parenting classes,
to ensure that the people who interact with at-risk children have the skills
necessary to maximize their potential.
- Require home visits by teachers, to ensure student staffing recommendations
can be and have been implemented.
- Phase out middle schools and develop K-8 centers to improve the education
and social transition of pre-teens.
- Review police arrest activity to determine whether there is an
“over-policing” of minority communities.
- Provide sensitivity training for police officers and detention center staff
to ensure they understand that an incarcerated child is still a child,
regardless of the charges, and that our children must be treated with dignity
and respect, not exposed to aggressive, hostile behavior, if we want them to
develop respect for the law and authority.
- Review charging decisions by the SAO to ensure they are not “over-charging”
minority children, in light of the DJJ statistics that seem to indicate the
Eleventh Judicial Circuit has proportionally higher felony to misdemeanor
charges for juveniles than any other Circuit in the state. Miscellaneous
* Educating judges, juvenile probation officers and prosecutors about
* Educating police officer on how to interact with children with disabilities
* Dealing with transient issues.