California’s Top Judge: ‘Let’s Get to Work’ on School Discipline


California’s top judge has learned some “alarming statistics” about school discipline. As Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye told California legislators on March 19, “in the last three years, California school suspensions, self-reported, are over 2 million…. I see a looming problem out there. If we aren’t responsible for our youth, if we don’t return them to school, if we don’t keep them in school, if we don’t help them become productive citizens, we are paving the way for entry not only into the juvenile justice system, but the adult justice system.” She ended her speech by telling legislators: “We have work to do.”

Judges are joining parents, students, educators and law enforcement to fix the problems with school discipline. Click here to see some of the solutions. Here is the full text of Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s comments as part of her State of the Judiciary speech:

“Recently I came across some very alarming statistics about school suspensions, that in the last three years, California school suspensions, self-reported, are over 2 million. And studies show that one suspension triples the likelihood of that youth having a juvenile justice contact in that year. A single suspension also doubles that youth’s chances of repeating the grade. And those two factors alone lead to a high drop-out rate for certain youth. And we show nationally that this kind of discipline has a racially disparate effect.

“So you might ask: why does school discipline have anything to do with justice? I see a looming problem out there. If we aren’t responsible for our youth, if we don’t return them to school, if we don’t keep them in school, if we don’t help them become productive citizens, we are paving the way for entry not only into the juvenile justice system, but the adult justice system. And we know we have collaborative, restorative partnerships that we can bring to bridge to the schools, so that we can accomplish much. And we have work to do.”

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