By Chief Judge Steve Teske,
Juvenile Court of Clayton County, GA; National Board Chair of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice; Chair of the School Pathways Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Many years ago, we changed the way we do business in our juvenile court by implementing best practices such as alternatives to detention. If we are going to be successful in “keeping kids in school and out of court,” collaborative partners from different disciplines in the community must play their part. The court cannot do it alone. When we use assessments to understand whether a young person is a risk to community safety, we need to make sure there are adequate mental health and social service supports to attend to that young person’s (and family’s) needs. Law enforcement needs to be aware of these approaches. Schools do too. By adopting a model where all these community partners come together in collaborative fashion—to identify the offenses for which we are NOT going to arrest, expel, or suspend students—we can work together to better hold that young person accountable, and get them the help they need.