ATLANTA Clayton County Chief Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske is one of seven education and judicial officials scheduled to testify before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on the “school-to-prison” pipeline Wednesday.
Teske said he has been invited by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to testify on the topic of “ending the school-to-prison pipeline.” The hearings are being held by the Senate judiciary committee’s Subcommittee on the constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
“This is the first time [the Senate] has taken up the issue of the school-to-prison pipeline,” Teske said.
A draft copy of Teske’s remarks shows he plans to “define” zero tolerance and its faults. The planned remarks show he will likely talk about how school system’s zero tolerance policies can result in students, who frequently get into trouble at school, ultimately ending up in prison.
He also plans on talking about how zero tolerance policies in Clayton County had a negative impact on high school graduation rates and school safety, as well as how the school district and juvenile court system worked together to address the issue.
Teske has spoken frequently across the country, and written opinion-editorial pieces for newspapers in neighboring states, on zero tolerance and the school-to-prison pipeline. He has also hosted court representatives from other states who have been interested in examining Clayton County’s approach to the situation.
In Clayton County, a warning is given to students and their parents on the pupil’s first offense, a referral to a conflict skills workshop after the second offense and a referral to the court system on their third offense, according to Teske.
He added a multi-disciplinary panel, made up of mental health professionals, school social workers and counselors, a juvenile court officer, social service workers and child service providers has also been created. He said the efforts have resulted in a 67.4 percent drop in court referrals since the efforts were put into place in 2003.