Repairing the Neglected Prison-to-School Pipeline: Increasing Federal Oversight of Juvenile Justice Education and Re-Entry in the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
This Note lays out four potential updates to the requirements attached to federal spending on juvenile facilities. Those options are to (1) change the requirements for which facilities can receive federal funding to include short-term facilities, thereby increasing federal oversight of a critical but under-regulated portion of the system; (2) require states to designate an individual or office that is responsible for justice-impacted youth transitioning out of facilities as a way to create clear lines of responsibility; (3) create statutory data collection requirements to better understand and identify the places where the transition process fails to provide necessary supports; and (4) ban states from automatically enrolling returning students in alternative schools, which often discourages those students from continuing their education. This Note discusses the benefits and drawbacks of each proposal, though its purpose is not to determine the most effective path forward. In the midst of a continuing national dialogue about the implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act, it is difficult to predict how the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will play out. There will be wide debate about almost every provision of the law prior to its reauthorization and many conversations about the proper way to oversee juvenile facilities and returning students. The analysis within this Note demonstrates that the inadequacies of the juvenile justice system’s education and transition programming must be addressed in that re-authorization. This Note argues for more specific requirements on states, districts, and all categories of juvenile facilities and lays out a series of proposals that would create stronger accountability systems for the federal money flowing to those facilities and being used to support youth in transition.
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