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Will LAUSD Regulate School Discipline & Ban “Willful Defiance?”….Far Right Lawmakers Say Let States Regulate Weed….LAPD’s Zero Tolerance,

April 17th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


MONICA GARCIA’S STUDENT BILL OF RIGHTS

On Tuesday, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia introduced a motion that, if adopted by the board, would establish a Student Bill of Rights for school discipline.

It’s a carefully constructed motion that is supported by a range of organizations including Public Counsel, Liberty Hill, The California Endowment, Community Coalition, and a host of student groups, and it lays out a set of rules and guidelines for schools regarding the way they discipline students. Among other things, the motion mandates transparency and good record keeping in the discipline process, and a clear delineation of the role of school police on campus.

It also mandates that all students have access to what is known as School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions (SWPBIS), a strategy that has been shown to reduce suspensions, increases attendance, and even to improve academic performance.

But, if passed, the biggest change the motion would put into place is the removal from the school discipline tool kit the use of “willful defiance” as a reason for suspension or expulsion.

Here’s the wording:

Beginning Fall 2013, no student shall be suspended or expelled for a “willful defiance” (48900(k) offense

Willful defiance is a blunt instrument that youth advocates and education reformers have been working hard to get taken off the table at a state level, but the state legislature and the governor have, thus far, balked. Thus for LAUSD to lead the way would be a positive development indeed. (And perhaps it would lead the way for passage of AB 420.)

Oddly, Tuesday’s LA Times editorial that discussed Garcia’s resolution, praised most of it, but took is issue only with the removal of “willful defiance” as an option.

We believe the Times is wrong-headed in its objection.

Here’s the relevant clip (italics ours):

The resolution, which is scheduled to come before the board Tuesday, would require schools to use other measures to combat willful defiance, including setting clearer expectations and providing counseling to get at the root of bad behavior when possible, both of which have been found to be more effective than suspension. But it also would allow schools to devise additional programs that might prove even more useful, such as detention, or setting up a special classroom, with schoolwork to be done and tutors available, so that students who act up in class aren’t allowed to continue disrupting the education of other students but also don’t fall behind in their studies.

Where the resolution goes off course is with its zero tolerance for suspending defiant students under any circumstances. The district still has not figured out how to deal with the most persistently disruptive students, those who don’t respond to counseling, and it shouldn’t completely tie the schools’ hands....

We don’t agree.

As we briefly outlined here earlier this week, in 2009, Jose Huerta, the principal of Garfield High School in East LA, not only took willful defiance off the table at his school, he took the radical step of doing away suspensions and expulsions altogether (except in extreme instances where demanded by state law). The result was, after less than two years, Garfield had a much healthier, safer campus, and suspensions went from 683…down to one. A year after that, the school’s state achievement scores (API) had jumped 75 points.

There are other examples elsewhere in the country. But Garfield is the closest, and the best.

Garcia’s motion will be voted on next month. We hope those behind the Times editorial will have done some further research and thinking on the issue between then and now.

(You can read Garcia’s motion here, but scroll down to page 24, item 44.)


ARCH CONSERVATIVES URGE CONGRESS TO GET RIGHT WITH STATES’ GANJA LAWS

Tim Dickenson of Rolling Stone has the story. Here’s a clip:

There’s a new congressional push to end the federal War on Pot in the states – and it’s being spearheaded by some of the most conservative members of the Republican conference.

The “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act” introduced in the House last week would immunize anyone acting legally under state marijuana laws from federal prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act. Depending on the state, the legislation would cover both medical marijuana and recreational pot, and would protect not only the users of state-legal cannabis, but also the businesses that cultivate, process, distribute and sell marijuana in these states.

The legislation is in keeping with poll data released last week from Pew Research that found that 60 percent of Americans believe the feds should allow states to self-regulate when it comes to marijuana. The same poll finds that 57 percent of Republicans also favor this approach, which may explain why this bill is attracting arch-conservative backers in the House.

The three GOP co-sponsors are:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, who is best known to liberals as a villainous climate denier for theorizing that global warming is the result of “dinosaur flatulence.”

Read the rest, to find out who else—from both the (R) and (D) sides— makes up this ganja gang.


LAPD SAYS ZERO TOLERANCE RE: PERJURY

The story by KPCC reporter Erika Aguilar is a sad one, really. Two LAPD motor cops may have made an innocent mistake in the way they wrote up a DUI stop, which led to the officers perjuring themselves—even though it seems there was no reason to do it. Nothing to gain. But Chief Charlie Beck said (in so many words) that the LAPD is firm about zero tolerance for lying on police reports and perjury.

That is, obviously, as it should be. Holding the line on a principal means holding it everywhere, no excuses. Let us hope the line is consistant throughout the department.

Here’s a clip from Aguilar’s story:

The criminal trial of two Los Angeles police motorcycle cops accused of lying under oath about conducting a DUI traffic stop began this week.

Craig Allen, who was fired, and Phillip Walters, who is on suspension from the force, were charged last year with perjury and falsifying a police report.

The incident occurred in Highland Park just after midnight three years ago. LAPD traffic cops were on watch for impaired driving. A DUI task force was in full force that night.

Officer Cecilio Flores watched a driver roll through one stop sign and then another before pulling her over. He said she had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol. Flores radioed over officers Walter and Allen to assist him with the stop and then take over, a “hand-off” as described in court or a “gimme.”

The DUI stop continued its fairly routine course. The driver was given a field sobriety test, arrested and transported to jail, and Allen began the paperwork.

That last step, the written police report, is the meat of this case.

“He wrote that he was in the area when they observed and pulled over the vehicle,” said prosecutor Rosa Alarcon in her opening statement. “He didn’t mention Flores.”

Alarcon said Walters later testified during a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing regarding the woman’s driver’s license that he saw her driving that night. She added that officer Allen testified at another hearing giving specific details about how they pulled over the driver — but admitted that he hadn’t personally observed the offense after audio of the dispatch recording was played.

“The defendants made a conscious decision to lie,” Alarcon said.

Posted in DEA, Education, LAPD, LAUSD, Restorative Justice, School to Prison Pipeline, War on Drugs, Youth at Risk, Zero Tolerance and School Discipline | 7 Comments »

The 5-Day, No Water DEA Detention, GA Gets Sensible, and Foster Kids Get New Apartment Keys

May 3rd, 2012 by Celeste Fremon

By Taylor Walker



THE 5-DAY NON-ARREST, NO WATER LOCK-UP

Some of you may already have seen short versions of this flabbergasting story of Daniel Chong, the 24-year-old engineering student and UC San Diego senior who said he was swept up in a Drug Enforcement Administration raid near campus and was taken to a DEA facility where, after questioning, he was told he would be released shortly. But instead Chong put in a tiny holding cell—and forgotten about for the next five days.

Jeff McDonald of UT San Diego has been doing the best job with this story. You can read McDonald’s update about the DEA’s “apology” here, and the main story here. But here are the basics of Chong’s ordeal.

At the DEA field office in Kearny Mesa, Chong said, he was handcuffed and left in a holding cell for about four hours. He was then moved to an interview room, where he was told he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and would be released shortly. One agent even promised to drive him home.

He was then returned to a holding cell to await his release. The door swung closed sometime Saturday and didn’t open again until Wednesday. Chong said he was in one of the middle cells, with no toilet, no water.

“I had to recycle my own urine,” he said. “I had to do what I had to do to survive.”

Soon, Chong said, nothing made sense. He could hear agents chatting among themselves on the other side of the heavy door, and other detainees coming and going from holding tanks nearby.

Days crawled by. No food. No water. No bathroom. He remembers biting his eyeglasses and using the broken shards to scrawl a note onto his left arm.

“Sorry Mom,” he tried to write.

The DEA acknowledged, in a statement to U-T San Diego’s The Watchdog on Monday, that agents left someone in a cell
after a raid on April 21 — until they found him and had to call paramedics. San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that medical call came on April 25.


GROWN UP FOSTER KIDS FIND KEY (LITERALLY) TO BRIGHTER FUTURE

Today, Thursday, Ashley Marquez, an 18-year-old who has recently “aged out” of foster care, will receive the keys to her first apartment, complete with rent-sharing roommate, with the help of First Place for Youth, a nonprofit that aids 16 to 24-year-old foster care kids in things like job training and placement, housing, education completion, and healthcare.

In the past, the stats on kids who age out of foster care have been heartbreakingly bad. But organizations like First Place for Youth are helping young men and women like Ashley break out of the trajectory that foster care has too often predicted.

As First Place for Youth explains the issue:

Each year in California, more than 5,000 youth age out of foster care when they turn 18 and lose access to all state-funded foster care services. Without housing, education or emotional support, 65 percent of foster youth will face imminent homelessness, 20 percent will be arrested or incarcerated, 46 percent will complete high school and only 1 percent will graduate from college.

Research has shown that providing intensive services—such as housing, education and employment support—at the critical juncture when youth are aging out, helps them avoid negative social outcomes and achieve real long-term self-sufficiency.

The kids that come through First Place For Youth seem to prove that a little help goes a long way. According to FPFY’s stats, the youth they work with are five times less likely to experience homelessness, three times less likely to give birth before the age of 21, three times less likely to be arrested, six times more likely to be enrolled in college, twice as likely to graduate from high school, twice as likely to be employed.

Congratulations to Ashley on her first place!


GEORGIA DECIDES TO USE PRISON CELLS MOSTLY FOR DANGEROUS CRIMINALS. (A NOVEL CONCEPT.)

Georgia’s governor signed a criminal justice reform bill Wednesday that will save taxpayers about $264M over the next five years. The sentencing reform will make room for an expanded rehabilitation budget and hopefully curb Georgia’s high recidivism rate (1 in 3 prisoners released are again incarcerated).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Aaron Gould Sheinin and Bill Rankin have the story.

Here’s a clip:

Years ago, Georgia was among the states leading the nation in tough-on-crime sentencing laws. But Georgia now joins a host of other states — including Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina — that have enacted legislation to address soaring prison spending that was doing little to reform offenders. The legislation enjoyed extraordinary bipartisan support, with the final version being approved unanimously by both the House and Senate.

The sentencing reform package, which takes effect July 1, is part of a broader criminal justice initiative pushed by Deal. The Legislature also approved the governor’s recommendation to quintuple funding to $10 million for “accountability courts” that require defendants to work, seek treatment and stay sober.

“As we reserve more of our expensive [prison] bed space for truly dangerous criminals [we] free up revenue to deal with those who are not necessarily dangerous but are in many ways in trouble because of various addictions,” Deal said. “Our system is feeding on itself with our recidivism rate being as high as it is. We have the opportunity now to make a difference in the lives of future generations of Georgians.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Listen up, California lawmakers. Why are conservative states like TX and now GA taking the lead in forward thinking and intelligent incarceration policy reform, while y’all are still cowering behind the increasingly flimsy-looking Tough-On-Crime barricade? Yes, realignment was a step. But we need real top-to-bottom sentencing reform—which means, among other things, a sentencing commission that can make informed recommendations that lawmakers actually take seriously.

Really, don’t you feel a tad embarrassed letting Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina zoom past you into the future? Well, don’t you????

Okay. I’m glad we had this little chat.

Posted in Civil Liberties, DEA, Foster Care, Sentencing | 1 Comment »