Sunday, June 26 , 2016, 2:01 am | Fair with Haze 60º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube
 
 
 
 

Local News

Teen Court May Team Up with Countywide Truancy Program to Expand Reach

Officials explore partnership in effort to keep Santa Barbara County youth out of juvenile justice system

Two organizations with the same goal — keeping students out of trouble — have opened talks to combine efforts.

Leaders of Santa Barbara County Teen Court say they hope working with the newly re-established countywide truancy program will result in fewer young people entering the juvenile-justice system.

Deputy District Attorney David Chen, who was hired over the summer to run the truancy program, met with members of the Teen Court Advisory Board this month to discuss what that partnership might look like.

Chen walked attendees through the new framework of the program, which was revived this school year after being lost to budget cuts in 2008.

He has been meeting with school district superintendents to figure out when to send “warn and concern” letters to parents and set up formal meetings with school administrators when students are truant, which refers to a student having more than three unexcused absences.

Where Teen Court falls in the cycle would depend a lot on school preference, said Chen, who noted that schools now are supposed to contact the District Attorney’s Office to participate in meetings of the Truancy Mediation Team or School Attendance Review Board.

Students who opt into Teen Court instead of going to a formal hearing in juvenile court can avoid a criminal record by being tried by a jury of their peers, with sentences that include serving jury duty in the court, community service, counseling and educational classes.

“Teen Court really has the same aim as our program,” Chen said. “That’s another resource we can add.”

The change would also allow Teen Court to expand its reach via the countywide program.

Teen Court has a new physical presence in Santa Ynez Valley schools as of earlier this month, said Teen Court program manager Britt Stanley.

The North County Teen Court program also will soon see a boost in funds because the South Coast’s program has received a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

The grant, which is one of only 10 awarded throughout the United States, will provide $200,000 for three years. Some existing human services funds will be diverted to the North County.

Stanley said this month that truant students could be given the same standard contract.

He also asked whether Lompoc Police Chief Larry Ralston, an advisory board member, could help get school resource officers more informed about Teen Court so they can make referrals as well.

“I see a majority of theses cases coming at the (Truancy Medication Team stage),” said Stanley, referring to a meeting a truant student would have with school administrators and law enforcement before going to SARB.

Program director Ed Cué said involving Teen Court in the truancy process could help get to the root of why students aren’t showing up to school without sending them in front of an actual judge.

The groups are still trying to work out logistics, but Stanley is confident that the partnership would benefit both parties.

“It’s a big-time leverage,” Stanley said. “I think it’s a good match.“

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >