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4. Continued efforts are under way to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

To help prevent children and young adults with disabilities from becoming involved with the criminal justice system, collaboration among schools, medical and mental health professionals, and judges is critical to identifying and addressing the factors that may lead to delinquency.

Educating judges about learning disabilities, ADHD and related disorders is particularly important in states where young offenders can be placed in programs instead of in custody. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges has identified practices for juvenile courts to follow when working with youth with learning disabilities.31 These include:

  • Understanding the laws (like IDEA and the Americans with Disabilities Act) and procedures that protect individuals with disabilities
  • Recognizing the signs that a student may need an evaluation or reevaluation for special education
  • Finding out if the school has been implementing the student’s IEP and providing appropriate services
  • For minor offenses, diverting students away from confinement and toward community-based services and supports
  • Collaborating with the school district to ensure that IEP services continue during and after justice involvement