Public Boarding School: The Seed School and the Model it Created

As a person who attended public schools from K-12, I only knew of boarding schools as being expensive alternatives to private schools. In my suburban community outside of Los Angeles, I only heard of children “being sent away” to boarding schools because they were “problem children.”  However, I never really understood the positive impact a boarding school could have on students and the community the school creates. Until watching the movie Waiting for Superman, the concept of a public boarding school never once crossed my mind. As the movie shows, the Seed School of Washington D.C. is a public charter school serving the community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Similar to other charter schools, the Seed School operates on a lottery system when space permits. However, the Seed School is unique- it is a boarding school, free of cost to those who attend and it is located within D.C., close to the students’ friends and families.  Students are permitted to go home on the weekends to spend time with their family, and during the week every student is involved in various extracirricular activities and experiences that they would never have access to without the Seed School.

As a supporter of many charter schools across the country and especially in New York City, I truly believe that New York City would benefit from creating a charter school that is a boarding school and is within the five boroughs of NYC. Having the boarding school within the City’s limits allows for students to remain part of their communities while being safeguarded from the streets of their communities.… <Read More>

Probation for a Rapist?

“I got 12 months for a falsified police report and he got probation for raping me and the others,” Ashley said on Friday. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Prosecutors and the judge agreed to a sentence of 10 years probation in exchange for Tony Simmons’, a counselor at Juvenile Justice Department, plea to rape against Ashley and other sexual counts for sexual conduct between 2005 and 2008. This plea offer agreement was later withdrawn by Judge Mullen, of New York County court, because Simmons had not shown any remorse for his actions. He made numerous comments that his victims inticed him or consented to his actions.
While Simmons was supposed to be helping these young female teens, he was instead taking advantage of their fragile states. He also entered into an agreement on behalf of Ashley which involved a 12 month sentence for a falsified police report while Simmons pled guilty to rape and was only given a probation sentence. This seems highly unbalanced justice that a juvenile offender would be so harshly punished for such a minor offense. This makes on wonder, whether this type of disproportionate justice frequently occurs in the juvenile justice system?
Finally on February 1st, 2011, Simmons was sentenced to a 4 year prison sentence for sexually abusing two girls.
<Read More>

Crouching Tiger Mother, Hidden Justice?

Is Amy “Tiger Mother” Chua the answer to our overpopulated juvenile justice system?

In a recent hotly discussed article for The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Chua touts the ability of Asian mothers to raise “stereotypically successful” children. She believes mothers who demand excellence from their children in all aspects of their lives are more likely to get it than those who simply request it. Ms. Chua has raised two daughters using this philosophy–daughters who were never allowed to attend a sleepover, have a play-date, watch TV, play anything but the piano or violin, or get any grade lower than an A in any class (except, of course, gym and drama).

Needless to say, Ms. Chua’s daughters have never been charged with a crime. But Ms. Chua’s philosophy raises the question: what would our juvenile justice system look like if more parents were Tiger Moms/Dads?

When we hear about the latest juvenile crime story, the thought that almost always comes to mind is: “Where are the parents?” Well…what if the parents were always involved in every single aspect of their child’s life, like Ms. Chua was? Former Manhattan Youth Part Judge Michael Corriero has said in class that children are so easily influenced by the actions of their peers because they are usually judged by the company they keep. If the parents were the child’s friends, however, or if the parents essentially forbid their child from having too much contact with their friends (like Ms. Chua did to hers), then this fear of letting children mix with the wrong crowd would be alleviated, wouldn’t it?… <Read More>

“Kids for Cash”

With all the problems plaguing juvenile justice, we really don’t need added corruption. Judge Mark Ciavarella from Pennsylvania was under suspicion for his “assembly line” service of juvenile offenders. Kids would be in and out of his courtroom in minutes and most of them were sentenced to detention facilities. Instead of state run facilities, the juveniles in his courtroom were sentenced to two particular private facilities. Under Ciavarella there was a 21% detention placement rate, up from the 4.5% detention placement rate with the prior judge.

This article outlines some of the offenses which landed kids in these detention centers:

A 10-year-old girl who accidentally set her bedroom on fire spent a month in a detention center.

A 13-year-old boy got 48 days for throwing a steak at his mother’s boyfriend during an argument. Ciavarella locked up another 13-year-old boy for failing to testify against a fellow student who brought a knife to a school dance.

A 15-year-old was sentenced to a boot camp for “an indefinite period” after she wrote a prank note that was deemed a “terroristic threat.”

A 16-year-old spent a month in a boot camp for creating a MySpace page that made fun of her high school’s assistant principal.

A 17-year-old boy charged with possessing drug paraphernalia, his first offense, served a total of five months.… <Read More>

What effects would the implementation of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to overhaul the State’s juvenile justice system have on counties outside of New York City?

On December 21st, 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to overhaul the New York State juvenile justice system. The proposal calls for the closure of juvenile residential facilities operated by the State’s Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) or the transfer of such facilities to the control of local counties. While the Mayor’s plan has received support from the City Council as well as from advocates and practitioners involved in the New York City juvenile justice system,  it is not clear how the proposal will be viewed in counties outside of New York City. Critics of the Mayor’s proposal argue that it fails to address the question of how counties will handle dangerous youths who have committed serious crimes such as assault, robbery, homicide and sex offenses.  … <Read More>