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HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR WORK – July 2018

HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR WORK
Alicia B. Lawsuit Settled: Improvements for Education for Expelled Students in Connecticut ›
Alicia B. vs. Malloy, NCYL’s lawsuit challenging the inadequate education provided to expelled students in Connecticut, has fully settled.  This settlement represents a significant step forward for the education of expelled students in Connecticut.

In Alicia B., NCYL, with its co-counsel Center for Children’s Advocacy (CCA) and K&L Gates LLP, represented two African-American middle school students who effectively received no education during their expulsions, despite their right under the Connecticut state constitution to an education.  As a result of the litigation, the State passed legislation requiring that expelled students be educated in accordance with standards developed to ensure their educational progress.  The State also subsequently passed those standards, which included significant feedback from CCA and NCYL.  In addition to those reforms, the settlement also requires that the State issue additional guidance to school districts, provide resources on reducing expulsions to school districts, families and the community, monitor and address racial disparities in expulsions, and draft a policy statement on the importance of reducing expulsions and reducing racial disparities in expulsions.  Previous settlements in the case had ensured that individual plaintiffs were made whole for their loss of education.

Lawsuit Challenges Riverside “Diversion” Program ›
NCYL, the American Civil Liberties Union and the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has filed a class action on behalf of three students and the non-profit mentoring organization Sigma Beta Xi, challenging the constitutionality of Riverside County California’s Youth Accountability Team (YAT). The County established YAT in 2001 to target at-risk youths for intervention, but YAT treats children who have misbehaved at school and have not been accused of committing crimes like hardened criminals with surprise searches, unannounced home visitations, strict restrictions on who participants can speak to, curfews, and interrogations into intimate details of their lives. The lawsuit alleges that the program, which is far more likely to be applied to youths of color, routinely violates the constitutional rights of the participating students.

School officials refer students to YAT for offenses as minor as tardiness or talking back to teachers, or simply for having a poor academic record. Without judicial oversight, advice from an attorney, or a full disclosure of the details of the YAT program, students and their families are coerced into signing on to the regimen, often in the presence of armed officers.

“While the county touts YAT as a diversion program, it turns out to be harsher, in many cases, than juvenile probation,” said Michael Harris, senior director of juvenile justice at NCYL. “That’s not appropriate for students simply misbehaving at school.”

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