We teamed up with the advocates from the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) to co-sponsor legislation that would establish a process for juvenile court school students to continue education coursework and meet more meaningful high school graduation requirements. This partnership gave us access to a greater number of legislators who could author the bill and bring a stronger focus to the legislative effort.
The team was able to secure Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes from Riverside County as our author. She was committed to this issue and her staff was engaged and enthusiastic. Additionally, Ms. Cervantes, a freshman legislator, was one who the majority party would want to protect in the next election, which could be helpful as this bill moved through the legislative process.
Download the Full PDF
We also met with an array of stakeholders on the juvenile justice issues, including representatives of education, social justice and civil rights organizations. The goal was to find ways to promote better futures for students in juvenile court schools.
Legislators, too, were concerned about the poor outcomes for these youth who have high drop-out rates and often leave juvenile detention or incarceration centers with few skills or job prospects. These students need support or they too easily become casualties of the “school to prison pipeline.”
We were worried that our legislative proposal would raise red flags. So we spent time talking with the key legislative staff who worked on the prior legislation and were anxious to ensure that its goals remained intact.
The statute in question was the result of a bill passed just the year before, it was highly unusual to try to change provisions of law so soon after initial enactment, especially because our clients had not opposed the earlier bill.
The other critical step was to get the education policy consultants from both houses together before the bill was ever heard. We needed them to discuss and ultimately draft precise bill language that would maintain the intent and foundation of the current law, while at the same time achieve the flexibility in the law that our clients were seeking.